Ryanair cabin crew in four countries across Europe have announced plans to take strike action against the low-cost Dublin-based airline on 25th and 26th July 2018. The walkouts could spell disaster for families with long-awaited holiday plans, with the prospect of thousands of passengers having their flights cancelled should the strikes go ahead as planned.
Cabin crew based in Italy are set to hold a 24-hour strike on 25th July and Ryanair in-flight staffers based in Belgium, Portugal and Spain will hold two consecutive days of strike action on the 25th and 26th July 2018. Unions representing cabin crew in those countries say more action could follow if Ryanair fails to meet their demands.
Only yesterday, the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and a coalition of cabin crew unions under the Cabin Crew United banner issued an eight-point charter which is designed to improve the working conditions of crew at the famously frugal budget airline.
The list of demands in the ITF’s charter included introducing sick pay, respecting seniority and allowing workers to take unpaid leave. Yet in a statement announcing the strike action, the Spanish union SITCPLA said it wanted Ryanair to meet a much simpler list of demands which Ryanair has so far refused to do.
Ryanair dismissed them as “pointless” despite the demands being standard working practice at nearly every other airline in Western Europe.
The biggest sticking points appear to be Ryanair’s continuing refusal to apply the national legislation of the country in which the cabin crew member is based in their employment contracts. At present, Ryanair provides Irish employment contracts for workers wherever they are based – critics say these contracts offer fewer benefits than what workers would enjoy if they had a local employment contract.
The unions are also demanding that Ryanair enters into negotiations without imposing any restrictions and that they treat all cabin crew equally – regardless of whether they are employed through a third-party employment agency or not. The ITF has also called on Ryanair to end its widespread use of agency workers who receive fewer benefits than directly employed cabin crew.
SITCPLA has accused Ryanair of “social dumping” – a practice in which companies use underhand means to employ cheap labour without any consideration of the impact it will have on the wider society.
The unions are now calling on local aviation authorities as well as the European Air Safety Agency (EASA) to monitor Ryanair more closely and take action if it’s proven to be flouting strict working rules for cabin crew.
In a thinly veiled threat, the four unions said other countries supported the strike action and that further walkouts could take place if Ryanair fails to engage with them.
“Ryanair workers are frustrated by the lack of progress since the company announced that it would recognise unions in December 2017. Since then, only a couple of recognition agreements have been signed and there have been no concrete improvements in pay and working conditions,” a spokesperson for the ITF explained.
“Today’s announcement comes only two days after the Irish pilots’ union IALPA/Fórsa announced strike action for Thursday 12 July. The company can expect further strike action over the summer if it continues to ignore the legitimate demands of its workers.”