DHL air operations returning to normal in Europe

DHL air operations returning to normal in Europe

DHL Express expected operations at its European hub in Brussels to return to normal after the company obtained a court order that fines workers for disrupting processing of packages.

"The DHL hub is fully operational. All employees are willing to work. No industrial action is foreseen. Service to our customers will be delivered as planned," said spokesman Xavier de Buck in a telephone interview from Brussels late Thursday.

DHL has 30 planes arriving at Brussels International Airport every weekday night, including an MD-11 freighter from New York, and another 30 departing.

It employs close to 2,000 workers at the airport.

The work stoppage began Monday night after the carrier dismissed a shop steward for what de Buck described as "unacceptable behavior, both in language and action."

That prompted other workers at the airport to refuse to load DHL aircraft, according to the International Transport Workers Federation. The union suspended the strike after DHL obtained a court order Tuesday that levies a fine of 2,500 euros per person per incident for any worker who stopped a parcel. The order also prohibits the union from picketing, according to Sam Dawson, a spokesman for the London-based federation. Cargo handlers went back to work Wednesday although the union claimed that DHL admitted shop stewards only after they agreed not to hold any meetings and that they would be personally liable for any stoppages.

De Buck, however, said the company has not imposed any penalties except on the one shop steward who was fired.

Operations at other DHL facilities in Europe were said to be close to normal Thursday after the company agreed not to transfer any work from Brussels to Metz in France. Workers handling DHL planes at Cologne airport in Germany, however, were working to rule, Dawson said.