Friday 17 August 2018

Dutch Ryanair pilots to join strikes on Friday as legal action to stop them fails

Dutch pilots joining strike despite Ryanair taking legal action to stop them

Ryanair's CEO Michael O Leary Photo: INM
Ryanair's CEO Michael O Leary Photo: INM

Anne-Marie Walsh

Ryanair pilots in the Netherlands will join a walkout by their colleagues in four countries on Friday after a court order from Ryanair to halt the industrial action failed.

A court in the Netherlands has told Ryanair pilots that they can join a wave of strike action planned across Europe for this Friday.

A statement from Ryanair on Thursday said: "Ryanair took every step to minimise the disruption and we notified our customers as early as possible advising them of their free move, refund or reroute options."

"The majority of customers affected have already been re-accommodated on another Ryanair flight. We want to again apologise to customers affected by this unnecessary disruption and we ask the striking unions to continue negotiations instead of calling anymore unjustified strikes."

The Dutch VNV union previously said it was "furious" the budget airline was going to court.

In a statement, the union said the European pilot strike should be a "wake-up call" for Ryanair management and claimed the legal threat made its decision "easier".

Kenny Jacobs, chief marketing officer of Ryanair, during a news conference in Frankfurt, Germany. Photo: Reuters
Kenny Jacobs, chief marketing officer of Ryanair, during a news conference in Frankfurt, Germany. Photo: Reuters

It said its demands were modest, including having Dutch law apply to contracts, no more "bogus" self-employment, and "sufficient" sick pay and pensions.

Ryanair did not respond to requests for a comment on the union's statement.

The number of passengers facing flight cancellations tomorrow has risen to 67,000 as pilots in five countries - including Ireland - are set to hold a 24-hour stoppage.

A total of 20 flights are being cancelled to and from Ireland, 22 in Sweden, 104 in Belgium and 250 in Germany, after Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) announced its members would join the industrial action yesterday. This brings the total number of flights that will be grounded to 396 - without counting cancellations in the Netherlands.

VC announced its members will strike from 3.01am on Friday until 2.59am on Saturday. In a statement, it claimed all flights scheduled to depart from German airports would be affected.

The union said all permanent pilots at Ryanair stations in Germany would strike.

It said it had received no "improved offer" from Dublin.

President of VC, Martin Locher, said the union was demanding improvements in pay and working conditions.

"Improvements are inconceivable without an increase in personnel cockpit costs," he said. He said Ryanair categorically ruled out any such increases at talks. "VC regrets the impact on affected passengers, cabin crew and ground crew. Passengers may wish to contact Ryanair directly regarding their scheduled flights as only the company itself can tell which flights are going to operate."

A Ryanair spokesperson said it had cancelled 250 out of more than 2,400 flights scheduled to operate in and out of Germany on Friday.

It accused VC of refusing to give seven days' notice of the "unjustified" strike so it could minimise disruption.

It said the strike is unnecessary as Ryanair sent VC a revised proposal last Friday on a collective labour agreement and called on the union to meet for talks.

Ryanair's Kenny Jacobs said it invited VC to meet but it did not respond to the invitation.

"Our pilots in Germany enjoy excellent working conditions," he said.

Irish Independent

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