Belgian air controllers' strike badly timed?

Three weeks after the terrorist attacks, air traffic controller strikes in protest at plans to raise the retirement age are severely hampering operations at Belgium's two biggest airports. Belgian commentators harshly criticise the strike.

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Le Soir (BE) /

Belgium blowing itself up

Brussels' airport and metro system have gradually started to operate normally after the attacks of March 22. The air controllers' stance is utterly irresponsible, the liberal daily Le Soir believes:

“This country no longer needs terrorists to blow itself up: with its absurd conduct, its irresponsible behaviour and its panic it's now doing that all on its own. ... Have we lost all sense of reality? ... If Belgium seems like no more than a house of cards it's because many of its key players are going solo, without leaders, without a common direction and without a collective sense of responsibility. In so doing they've only hastened Belgium's collapse. Even Tuesday's social consultation didn't result in a victory for common sense. ... And worst of all there's no saying who can put our country back together again - or how.”

De Morgen (BE) /

Egoists in their ivory tower

The strike is completely irresponsible, the centre-left daily De Morgen agrees:

“Can anyone imagine the New York City Fire Department going out on strike for better working conditions two weeks after 9/11? ... What were the air traffic controllers thinking when they put their private demands above the general need to get economic and social life back to normal? ... How imprisoned in your ivory control tower do you have to be to wilfully drag all the people's work [after the attack on the airport] through the mud with collective demands? ... The question arises: if these air controllers fail to see that this is really not the time for a strike, are they really the right people to be protecting our airspace?”