Ryanair could actually be about to resolve a lengthy near year-long industrial dispute which has seen pilots and cabin crew hold strike action in several countries across Europe. In a new development, the Dublin-based low-cost airline has managed to negotiate a draft agreement with the German United Services Union (Ver.di) on a collective labour agreement for cabin crew in the country.
If approved, the agreement would cover all of Ryanair’s cabin crew in Germany – whether employed directly by the airline or through one of the agencies that Ryanair uses. Just like in a similar deal struck with unions in Italy, the airline has for the first time agreed to offer local employment contracts which are governed by German law.
“After almost one year of negotiations ver.di sees in the preliminary agreement a step towards the improvement of working conditions for employees and their salaries,” the union said in a written statement. The union will now put the draft agreement to a vote which is scheduled to take place on 13th November.
In its own press release, Ryanair said that if approved, the two-year deal would deliver pay increases and other unspecified “benefits” for cabin crew. A collective labour agreement hammered out between Ryanair and the three main Italian unions that represent cabin crew at the airline recently won 88% approval in a vote put to union members.
That deal will also see more opportunities for agency workers to be directly employed by Ryanair and a local Italian pension scheme will also be introduced. It’s likely that Ryanair has used the same blueprint for its deal with Ver.di.
Over the last few months, Ryanair has faced fierce criticism over its employment practices and has been accused of “social dumping” for its alleged low pay of cabin crew. In the past, crew were forced to sign Irish employment contracts no matter where they were employed throughout Europe.
A key demand of unions was to stop this practice but after initially refusing to do so, Ryanair has eventually backtracked and opened up the door to reach agreement’s in more countries.
In the last weeks, two major shareholders have raised doubts about the airline’s ability to manage industrial relations – with one U.S. shareholder starting legal proceedings to sue Ryanair for allegedly lying about its “industry leading” contracts.