Ryanair pilots in Ireland plan to strike five days before Christmas, while their German counterparts stand ready to walk out “at any time”, as unions across Europe intensify a push for the discount airline to recognise independent labour representation.
Members of the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association told the carrier that they’ll halt work for a day on 20 December over Ryanair’s refusal to recognise it or a European labour group for wage talks, the union said on Tuesday 12 December via an email.
Ryanair’s Italian crew members have already said that they’ll walk out for four hours on 15 December. Vereinigung Cockpit, which represents flight-deck crews in Germany, said that Ryanair pilots based in the country plan stoppages, although it declined to specify a date.
“Our goal is to begin wage negotiations with Ryanair [following stepped-up efforts in the past month to gain recognition by the airline],” Vereinigung Cockpit President Ilja Schulz told journalists in Frankfurt. While the company has set up employee groups for discussing labour issues, pilots throughout Europe “are unanimous – they want their own representation”.
Labour leaders across Europe are making an aggressive unionisation drive for better working conditions at Ryanair, challenging a low-cost business model that helped make the Irish company the region’s biggest budget airline. Chief executive officer Michael O’Leary has repeatedly fought employees’ attempts to gain union representation. Amid deteriorating labour relations, the carrier is bringing back Peter Bellew as chief operations officer following a stint at Malaysia Airlines Bhd to patch things up.
The 15 December action by pilots and flight attendants in Italy would be Ryanair’s first-ever strike. According to Schulz, 95% of pilots who voted at the carrier’s home base in Dublin and other Irish sites favoured labour action. Employees have also formed local labour councils in Spain, Sweden, Portugal and the Netherlands.
News by Bloomberg – edited by Hospitality Ireland