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Friday 24 May 2019

Ryanair now 'faces the biggest strikes in its history'

Ryanair flights departing Dublin Airport. Picture: Steve Humphreys
Ryanair flights departing Dublin Airport. Picture: Steve Humphreys

Ann-Marie Walsh

Ryanair passengers may face more disruption after workers across Europe threatened the "biggest strike action the company has ever seen" later this month.

Unions in Italy, Portugal, Belgium, Spain and Holland demanded contracts based on local rather than Irish law and warned they would not back down until their demands are met. The unions, including Ultrasporti in Italy and SNPVAC in Portugal, warned a strike may take place in the last week of this month and will be announced by September 13.

However, a spokesperson for Irish-based union Fórsa, which represents cabin crew here, said it is not part of the campaign.

The European unions said a historic meeting took place in Rome yesterday and was attended by cabin crew, pilots and ground handling staff.

It said Ryanair shareholders have an opportunity to put the low fares carrier on the "right track" at a meeting on September 20.

"The workers and their representatives will be monitoring the outcome of the shareholders general assembly, and, if the company leadership are not willing to make the changes necessary, will have no choice to respond with the biggest strike action the company has ever seen," it said.

The unions said no progress was made during a summer of talks, "meaningless" meetings and an escalation of an industrial dispute that ended in the first pan-European strike action in the history of Ryanair. Cabin crew in three European countries were involved in the industrial action in July that led to the cancellation of 600 flights.

The threat comes as the budget airline made peace with its Irish-based pilots and withdrew the threat of 300 job cuts among pilots and cabin crew this winter.

In a statement, Ryanair said its board yesterday decided to restore six Dublin-based aircraft that were due to transfer to Poland in November.

The airline said the agreement brought an end to five days of "unsuccessful but damaging" strikes.

Chief people officer Eddie Wilson said the strikes caused minimal damage to Ryanair's schedule but affected "forward fares and yields" because of the perception of possible disruption.

Irish Independent

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