Monday 20 August 2018

Ryanair now facing pilot strikes in four nations on same day

Cabin crew who went on strike last week have threatened to walk out again, while pilots in Sweden and Belgium will hold stoppages on the same day next week. Photo: REUTERS
Cabin crew who went on strike last week have threatened to walk out again, while pilots in Sweden and Belgium will hold stoppages on the same day next week. Photo: REUTERS

Anne-Marie Walsh and John Mulligan

Ryanair pilots in four countries may co-ordinate strikes on Friday week, Ryanair has revealed.

The budget airline said it received notice of strikes on August 10 from unions in Belgium and Sweden.

"We have also been notified of possible strike actions by pilot unions in Germany and the Netherlands which we believe will be co-ordinated and occur on Friday, August 10," it said.

It said it had written to each of the unions to hold talks and asked them to give seven days' notice of strikes to minimise disruption for passengers.

It issued the statement to the Irish Independent as a campaign of industrial action took off across Europe.

Cabin crew who went on strike last week have threatened to walk out again, while pilots in Sweden and Belgium will hold stoppages on the same day next week.

Members of the Swedish Airline Pilots' Association and Belgian Cockpit Association revealed they would strike on Friday week. This will follow a fourth strike by pilots in Ireland tomorrow.

Some 3,500 passengers will be affected after the airline cancelled 20 of 300 flights that are scheduled.

In a letter to Ryanair's chief people officer, Eddie Wilson, Fórsa national secretary Angela Kirk said it would notify him of further strike dates by the pilots in Ireland "in due course".

It accused the airline of "rewording" its demands for a seniority agreement in a briefing document to members.

Pilots in Germany and the Netherlands have voted in favour of industrial action but have not announced dates.

The International Transport Workers' Federation, which is organising cabin crew, said further strikes over the summer were probable if the airline "continues to ignore the legitimate demands of its workforce".

It said it was "standing in solidarity" with the striking pilots who want better terms and conditions.

The organisation accused the company of threatening job cuts by issuing protective notice to 300 Irish-based pilots and cabin crew last week rather than "engaging" with them.

"Calls for industrial action will continue until the company makes good collective bargaining agreements with unions," it said.

It questioned whether the current management was capable of transitioning to a "sustainable, unionised business model".

Promotion

Isabelle De Gandt, of the Belgian union, denied the strike on Friday week was co-ordinated with its Swedish counterpart.

Ryanair denied participation in a strike would affect promotion or transfer decisions relating to its workers.

A letter from its inflight operations manager, Thomas McLoughlin, to cabin crew said their absence due to a strike was unauthorised and would be recorded as a "no-show".

"All no-shows are recorded in your absence record and are taken into consideration along with all relevant factors of performance when assessing promotion and transfer opportunities," he said.

A later message to Belgian cabin crew from Andrea Doolan, head of in-flight operations, said it received a number of queries from crew regarding the no-show letters.

She said participation in the strike would not affect their current or future transfer or promotion applications.

A Ryanair spokesperson confirmed taking part in a strike does not affect promotion or transfer decisions.

In July Ryanair saw its traffic grow 4pc year-on-year to 13.1 million customers.

However almost 200,000 customers suffered flight cancellations last month due to strikes and weather.

Irish Independent

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