Sunday, 19 August, 2018

Dutch Ryanair pilots plan Friday strike as carrier takes union to court

Ryanair strike Dutch pilots are disputing working conditions Ryanair strike Dutch pilots are disputing working conditions with the Irish low-fare airline
Russell Knight | 10 August, 2018, 15:52

Ryanair faced its worst one-day strike on Friday after a walk-out by pilots in five European countries disrupted the plans of an estimated 55,000 travellers with the budget airline at the height of the summer holiday season.

The Dutch pilots union VNV said it was the first time in Europe that an airline had gone to court to prevent industrial action, the Financieele Dagblad reported.

This adds to industrial action already planned for today in Ireland, Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands. About 50,000 passengers are understood to have been told of cancellations on 400 flights.

The strike is over improved pay and conditions. If the strike goes ahead, it will hit mainly passengers travelling from Eindhoven. As Ryanair had already informed passengers of the disruption there was "no one looking desperately for flights".

Ryanair released a statement which reads: "We took every step to minimise the disruption and we notified our customers as early as possible advising them of their free move, refund or reroute options".

That topped the 300 flights a day it had to cancel last month when cabin crews in Belgium, Portugal and Spain escalated the staff revolt by going on strike for 48 hours.

A spokesman said that despite the walkouts, 85% of Ryanair's scheduled flights, more than 2,000, would operate as normal.

Ryanair built its low-priced business model without unions, but said previous year it would recognise them.

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But Ryanair pilots say they earn less than counterparts at other airlines such as Lufthansa.

Staff claim this creates huge insecurity for them, blocking their access to state benefits in their country.

Ryanair has repeatedly said it remained open to further talks with pilot representatives.

He added that Ryanair had already offered a 20% pay increase this year, and that 80% of its pilots in Germany were now on permanent contracts.

But its combative chief executive Michael O'Leary has also warned the airline may shift jobs and planes to more profitable areas if the turmoil continues. But it has also threatened to move part of its fleet to Poland, which could mean a loss of jobs.

Shares in the airline were 1.4 percent lower at 13.36 euros by 0825 GMT, having fallen 18 percent since the action ramped up in mid-July to stand well below the 14.21 euros they slumped to in December when Ryanair shocked markets by recognising unions.

The European Trade Union Confederation welcomed the cross-border action by the pilots, saying it made it harder for management to ignore the pilots' demands.

"We want to apologise to customers affected by this unnecessary disruption and we ask the striking unions to continue negotiations instead of calling anymore unjustified strikes [sic]".

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