Reaction to Labour Authority's demands
Today, the Netherlands Labour Authority (NLA) made demands in two main areas relevant to the improvement of working conditions at Schiphol. In short, the NLA is demanding that Schiphol replace all diesel-powered equipment on airside (the areas behind the fences at Schiphol) as soon as possible. This includes vehicles and generators. Furthermore, the NLA is demanding that the work of baggage handlers be automated or mechanised in order to the reduce the physical burden on staff. Schiphol also plays an important part in that.
Ever since my first day, my priority has been to improve pay and working conditions so that Schiphol becomes an attractive place to work again. Measures to improve the working conditions of handlers have already been taken. It is unfortunate that the industry, including ourselves, cannot manage to really solve this on our own and that the Labour Authority has to get involved. Fine words are no longer sufficient, it is time for more and faster action.
Replacing diesel-powered equipment
The NLA's demand that all diesel-powered equipment be replaced is in line with Schiphol's ambitions and with measures that have already been taken. For instance, 72 of the 128 gates have shore power. Shore power provides stationary aircraft with electricity, meaning diesel generators are not needed. Electrical power units (e-GPUs) are also being deployed at the airport. In cooperation with KLM, we recently ordered 30 new e-GPUs. In addition, 40% of all vehicles on airside are electric. Schiphol is going to carefully study the authority's demands, which include several hard deadlines, and sees them as encouragement to accelerate the course already set.
Schiphol recognises how important it is for employees that baggage handling in the basement be automated or mechanised and will make every effort to achieve this as soon as possible. Currently, around 75% of the baggage basement is equipped with lifting aids. Automating/mechanising all baggage handling is a large task. Schiphol is not aware of any airport in the world where baggage handling is fully automated, and discussions we have had with potential suppliers suggest that this is ambitious.
Schiphol's recently introduced rules regarding a safe and healthy workplace for handling agents (licence to operate) include the condition that handling agent employees must use the lifting aids. Schiphol sees this as a joint responsibility, which the airport itself will also act upon and monitor.