When it rains it pours, especially when you adamantly refuse to fix your roof. While the strikes started out in April, it was in July Ryanair that faced the biggest, most coordinated actions in decades. Now, more are coming, especially with the carrier’s German pilots promising to give only 24 hours of warning. The strike was now announced to be on August 10th Meanwhile, Swedish, Belgian and Dutch pilots have declared their intentions to strike, too.
Vereinigung Cockpit is the union representing the pilots in Germany. 96% of its members voted ‘yes’ on industrial action. The union is giving Ryanair time until August 6th to reach out to them and make a satisfactory offer. If the airline fails to respond, the pilots will strike – and the law says they don’t need to announce it more than 24 hours beforehand. German news sources claim that disruptions can be expected from August 7th. We now know that the strike will be on August 10th. Ryanair will be forced to cancel 250 flights.
The German pilots want collective bargaining agreements with Ryanair, and to bring their working conditions closer to what employees of other budget carriers enjoy. The list of grievances is 34-points long, and it includes things like sick leave, scheduling, basing and so on.
But German pilots are not the only ones to strike this month. We now know that Swedish, Belgian and Irish pilots will strike for 24 hours on August 10th. Some unconfirmed reports state that crews from the Netherlands might coordinate with them and strike on the same day.
The strikes on August 3rd have resulted in 3,500 passengers being notified of flight cancellations. The wave of strikes on August 10th will affect 146 flights and 25,000 passengers. If you’re flying on that day, Skycop advises you to double-check whether your flight is affected!
Michael O’Leary is taking all these developments really well and threatening to transfer jobs to Poland. “As long as there’s common sense on their side then we’ll reach agreements,” he said in a press conference. “If we have people who just want to have strikes for the sake of having strikes then they can have strikes and they’ll find themselves (with) jobs getting moved and aircraft getting moved.
“If some market is being damaged as the Irish market has been damaged in recent months by these activities, the Polish market is growing hugely strongly for us, the Ryanair Sun is very full, profitable, we need more aircraft in the Polish market – move aircraft to Poland.”
Irish Airline Pilot Association (IALPA) issued a statement that threats like that – referred to as “escalation” – only harden the resolve. Meanwhile, the chief marketing officer for Ryanair suggested that the strikes are actually the work of pilots from a rival airline: “In most unions where four strikes have failed to have any effect, the unions and employer would be entering into negotiations to resolve the dispute. In this case, after four days of unsuccessful strikes, a handful of Aer Lingus pilots are working behind the scenes with pilot unions in Sweden, Holland, Belgium, and Germany to further disrupt Ryanair’s business.”
Last year, Ryanair narrowly avoided strike on Christmas crunch time by agreeing to negotiate with the unions. However, many feel that the carrier’s promises were only so much talk. That’s why members of the Irish pilot union staged a walk-out on the 12th of July.
This was the first strike that Ryanair faced in decades – but certainly not the last. First, the largest Irish public sector worker union launched a strike on July 20th. Meanwhile, cabin crews and pilots in Spain, Portugal, and Belgium had a walkout of two days between July 25 and 26. Italian crews went on strike for a day on July 25th. Oh, and the Irish union is relentless: talks of cutting 300 pilot and cabin crew jobs will result in a strike on August 3rd.
“Being a low-cost carrier doesn’t mean that you should save on employee benefits. Ryanair’s staff manages some of the most intense amounts of traffic in Europe every day. As proud citizens of the richest economic community in the world, we feel obliged to uphold its high moral standards. We support fair employment practices just like any other professional business in the region – thus, we hope that Ryanair will act to improve their flawed enrolment processes. The airline‘s crews are making their voices heard. Trade unions fight for their basic rights to secure fair working conditions and pay, promote a healthy work-life balance, ensure proper rest periods, and clear career prospects. These things are not frivolous privileges, but the necessary conditions needed to deliver safe and smooth flights – ones that only a happy and well-rested cabin crew can provide. Mr. O’Leary should reconsider his position on where the true value lies in these matters,” says the CEO of flight compensation company Skycop.
In order to help passengers that face disruptions even further, Skycop has launched a petition. Its aim is to make the lawmakers expand the passenger protections that exist under the regulation EC 261/2004. You can sign it here. Skycop will deliver the petition to policymakers once a decent amount of signatures is collected. If you have previously faced flight delays or cancellations, or if you have experienced denied boarding because of overbooking, you should be interested in adding your signature to the petition!