The European Cabin Crew Association has claimed Ryanair is unwilling to negotiate with unions who represent cabin crew at the airline – just months after Ryanair said it would begin recognising unions for the first time in its history. The accusations come as Ryanair continues to pen deals with pilot groups that have improved working conditions and bargaining rights for flight crew.
Saying Ryanair doesn’t “want to establish a good social partnership within Europe” and accusing the airline of “social dumping“, the ECCA is calling on Ryanair’s cabin crew to stand together in solidarity.
A cabin crew union in Portugal, the SNPVAC, has said it now plans three 24-hour stoppages over the Easter period – on the 29th March, 1st April and 4th April – over claims that working conditions are in fact getting worse and not better as had been promised by Ryanair.
Speaking to Reuters, Fernando Gandra of the SNPVAC said the strike was about “worsening labour conditions, a lack of respect for the dignity of the cabin crew … and threats over sales objectives.”
But the strike may have just a very limited effect on Ryanair’s operations. With cabin crew at the airline spread across 87 different bases throughout Europe and North Africa, building a unified voice has been tough for workers groups who represent cabin crew.
Complicating the situation even further has been Ryanair’s use of agency staff through two Irish employment agencies – cabin crew working under these contracts believe that the airline will simply refuse to renew their contract should they stand up to demand improved working conditions.
For its part, however, Ryanair claims it offers some of the best employment terms in the industry. A job ad for cabin crew with Ryanair promises a €750 new joiners allowance, target earnings of between €20,000 to €25,000 in year one and a stable “5 on 3 off roster.”
What’s more, Ryanair has made a couple of significant improvements to its recruiting process – no longer requiring candidates to pay for their training and providing uniforms free of charge. In the past, these two requirements to could set new hires back several thousand Euros.
Yet that’s nothing in comparison with the latest offers being made by Ryanair to appease angry pilot groups. Flight crew have been offered generous pay rises to prevent disruptive strike action and an alleged exodus of pilots to rival airlines.
In the latest developments, Ryanair has decided to ditch employment agencies in Germany, instead offering direct employment contracts. Deals have already been signed with pilot unions in a number of other European countries including the UK and Ireland.
Ryanair’s head of HR, Eddie Wilson has said he is willing to talk with cabin crew unions in Portugal as well as the UK, Italy and Spain.