Europe’s largest low-cost airline, Ryanair is coming under mounting pressure to improve cabin crew working conditions after a coalition of unions led by the International Transport Workers Federations (ITF) published a list of 34 demands it wants Ryanair to meet. The demands which were spelt out in an eight-point charter were the culmination of the first-ever cabin crew summit for Ryanair workers.
Cabin crew, representing around 80% of Ryanair’s bases across Europe as well ground staff from every base met in Dublin on the 3rd and 4th July to develop the Ryanair crew charter and create a roadmap to bring Ryanair’s working conditions in line with similar employers within Europe.
The demands come just one day after Ryanair’s Irish-based pilots voted to hold a 24-hour strike which is set to take place on 12th July. There are already warnings that cabin crew could join pilots in a walkout if their demands are not met.
Last December, Ryanair agreed to recognise unions for the first time in its history. Some progress has already been made, most notably in the United Kingdom where the low-cost carrier managed to strike a deal with the Unite union to officially represent cabin crew in the country. Elsewhere, however, progress has been much slower.
The ITF notes that even in jurisdictions where Ryanair has managed to recognise a union, no concrete improvements have been made in either pay or other working conditions. In a stark warning, the ITF says the airline risks industrial action over the busy summer months if it fails to take action now.
Covering areas like pay, rostering, contracts and sickness, the eight-point charter includes some demands that would be taken for granted by many cabin crew at other airlines. Some of the demands include:
- Offering unpaid leave
- Sick pay
- Ending the pressure to meet tough sales targets
- Preserving minimum rest periods required by law
The demands also shine a light on some of the other working conditions which are a far cry from other airlines – including low-cost carriers. The crew charter says staff should be given food and water when working and a seniority system should be established. It also demands the airline work towards abolishing the system of employing cabin crew through third-party agencies.
So far, Ryanair hasn’t commented on this new set of demands but in the past, the Dublin-based carrier has faced down industrial strife. Earlier this year, the airline attempted to break a cabin crew strike in Portugal by using staff and crew from neighbouring Spain to fill some of its schedules.
It’s unlikely, however, that even widespread strike action will have much of an impact on the ever-popular airline. Last year, Ryanair managed to carry 128 million passengers despite a pilot rostering fiasco which led to thousands of flights being cancelled.
The airline has now grown so large that it was recently officially recognised as Europe’s largest airline in terms of passenger numbers – carrying 1.5 times as many passengers as arch-rival easyJet and double the number of passengers as Lufthansa.