Europe’s largest low-cost airline is now facing the prospect of damaging pilot and cabin crew strikes in three major markets after Portuguese cabin crew announced their intention of staging a five-day walkout. The news comes as pilots in Ireland and the UK take part in separate ballots for possible industrial action.
No date has yet been set for the Portuguese cabin crew which the union says have been caused by Ryanair’s “intransigence” in guaranteeing “fundamental labour rights”.
Last week, the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) said it would be balloting Ryanair pilots for possible strike action because it had been unable to resolve a number of outstanding labour issues with the airline such as pensions, maternity benefits, allowances and what the union described as a “fair, transparent, and consistent pay structure”.
Brian Strutton, general secretary of the BALPA union called out Ryanair bosses claiming: “As usual with Ryanair, it’s their way or the highway, and we are not prepared to put up with that.”
It emerged just a few days later that Irish pilots represented by IALPA were also to be balloted on taking strike action against Ryanair because of their “frustration and disappointment” with the lack of progress the union has made in talks with the airline.
The ballot for UK-based pilots is set to close on the 7th August and the ballot for Irish pilots will close on 9th August. If the majority of pilots back a walkout then industrial action could begin by mid-August. No date has yet been set for the Portuguese cabin crew strike, although it’s expected to take place at some point in August.
The SNPVAC union said the decision to call a strike had come about because of Ryanair’s apparent refusal to comply with an agreement on working conditions. Last year, Ryanair said it would offer cabin crew at least 22 days of paid leave per year, offer more staffers a route to full-time direct employment with the airline and comply with Portuguese parental law.
Unions officials say Ryanair has failed to meet these terms.
“Facing the intransigence from Ryanair and the lack of interest of the Portuguese Government on guaranteeing the fundamental labour rights to their citizens that work for Ryanair, the Cabin Crew had no other choice but to return to the industrial conflict until their labour rights are fully complied with by the Irish airline,” a union rep said in a statement.
Ryanair has not yet publicly commented on this latest industrial unrest. The airline faced damaging industrial action last year as pilots and cabin crew across Europe pressed the company to improve working conditions.