Hundreds of Ryanair flights cancelled today as union blames lack of EC regulation for strikes
A "legal vacuum" caused by the European Commission is partly to blame for the continuing strikes at Ryanair, the European Transport Workers' Federation has claimed.
In an open letter to transport commissioner Violeta Bulc, the federation said the EC had a duty to prevent "social dumping" - where companies take advantage of lax employment legislation in different countries - and warned there are risks of new traffic disruptions "in the weeks and months to come".
The warning from the federation came as hundreds of flights across Europe are grounded this morning by Ryanair pilot strikes, hitting tens of thousands of passengers.
Ryanair staff pilots in Ireland, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Belgium were set to strike today for 24 hours, resulting in hundreds of the airline's flights being cancelled, including 20 to and from Ireland.
As many as 250 flights across Germany have been hit, with the airline having earlier this week announced an additional 146 cancelled across Ireland, Belgium and Sweden.
Ryanair has described the German strike as "unjustified".
The airline had sought an injunction to prevent its pilots in the Netherlands from striking. But a court said yesterday Ryanair pilots in the Netherlands could not be prevented from doing so.
The Dutch pilot union, VNV, had earlier this week described today's strike as a "wake-up call" for Ryanair.
The European and International Transport Workers' Federations said in their letter to the European Commission, which was also addressed to employment and social affairs commissioner Marianne Thyssen, that the EC had pledged to launch a "social package in aviation" by early this year, but that no such provisions had yet been made.
"It is precisely because of this legal vacuum that strikes such as this summer at Ryanair are occurring," it claimed.
"These claims of 'social dumping' by the Transport Workers' Federations are nonsense," said a Ryanair spokesperson.
"Ryanair complies with all EU and applicable national law in the 37 different markets in which we operate," she added.
Last night, Ryanair said "it took every step to minimise disruption" to passengers.
It also called on the striking unions to return to negotiations rather than "calling any more unjustified strikes".