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Ryanair strike: 250 flights cancelled in walkout

Pilots and cabin crew in six countries walked out on Friday 28 September

Friday 28 September 2018 16:07 BST
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Ryainair strikes continue as Dutch pilots join in, as 150 flights are cancelled

Ryanair cancelled 250 flights, affecting around 40,000 passengers, ahead of a coordinated one-day strike on Friday 28 September by pilots and cabin crew in Spain, Portugal, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Germany.

Various unions called for their members to stage a 24-hour walkout from 12am (GMT) on Friday 28 September. Although pay is a factor, the majority of unions seem to be lobbying most strongly for a transition from workers being employed on Irish contracts and subject to Irish legislation to their own countries’ labour laws.

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Ryanair has accused rival airlines of stirring up the unions responsible for Friday's industrial action. 

In a statement, the beleaguered low-cost airline said: "In Spain, a Norwegian cabin crew member in Alicante is driving the strike, in Portugal a TAP cabin crew is calling for strikes without the support of our Portuguese cabin crew, and in Italy where Ryanair yesterday signed a CLA agreement with the three main cabin crew unions, this threatened strike has been called by a tiny union which has no recognition or support among our Italian cabin crew."

The unions currently calling for their members to strike are: Italy’s Uiltrasporti and FILT-CGIL, Portugal’s SNPVAC, Belgium’s CNE/LBC, Spain’s SITCPLA and USO, and VNV and FVN in the Netherlands.  

Helen Coffey26 September 2018 12:36
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Ryanair has published its offer to pilots and cabin crew in a bid to "set the record straight, correct competitor trade union propaganda and pave the way to a speedy conclusion of collective labour agreements (CLAs) with its people and their unions".

Europe's biggest airline says it has also submitted a competition complaint to the European Commission calling for an investigation of the "anti-competitive behaviour of certain competitor airline crew, unions and lobby groups, who are actively impeding Ryanair’s negotiations with its pilots/cabin crew".  

It is accusing other airline employees of stirring up the repeated strikes "in an effort to damage Ryanair’s business and customer confidence".

Helen Coffey26 September 2018 12:46
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Speaking in Brussels today, Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary said: "We have made real progress with the unions and our people in many EU countries since we agreed to recognise unions in Dec 2017. However, in certain countries, most notably in Portugal, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, and Sweden similar progress is being impeded by the interference of competitor airline pilots and cabin crew who are conspiring to call repeated and unnecessary strikes, which are disrupting Ryanair’s customers, and damaging our business for the benefit of their legacy airline employers.

"We are not aware of any other multi-national company in Europe where its union negotiations are interfered with by competitor employees. Volkswagen’s union negotiations do not take place with Peugeot car workers. Tesco is not required to meet with ASDA employees. Yet in Ryanair currently, we are being asked to negotiate with pilots and/or cabin crew of Aer Lingus, Norwegian, TAP, Eurowings, KLM and Braathens. This is anti-competitive behaviour which damages consumers."

Helen Coffey26 September 2018 13:11
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Ryanair is being encouraged to pay out compensation to customers whose flights are cancelled by the strike.

The Civil Aviation Authority has urged Ryanair passengers grounded by strikes to claim €250 or €400 in compensation under European air passengers’ rights rules, while Rory Boland, Which? travel editor, said:

“These cancellations mean more travel chaos, more unnecessary disruption and more holiday plans in tatters for 30,000 Ryanair passengers - when will this airline finally do right by its customers?

“The airline must now immediately arrange alternative flights or provide a full refund and pay out compensation to those affected - including the many people still waiting for the money they’re owed from its shambolic summer of cancellations”

Ryanair said it would reject any compensation claims for strikes because they were caused by “extraordinary circumstances”.

Helen Coffey26 September 2018 14:47
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We sincerely apologise to those customers affected by these unnecessary strikes on Friday, which we have done our utmost to avoid, given that we have already offered these unions recognition agreements, Collective Labour Agreements, and a move to local contracts/law in 2019.

These repeated unnecessary strikes are damaging Ryanair’s business and our customer confidence at a time when oil prices are rising strongly, and if they continue, it is inevitable that we will have to look again at our capacity growth this winter and in summer 2019. We hope these unions will see common sense and work with us to finalise agreements for the benefit of our pilots and cabin crew over the coming weeks without further disrupting our customers or our flights.

When we can successfully do deals with unions in Ireland, the UK, Germany and Italy, why are some unions in Belgium, Holland and Spain not doing similar deals?” 

Ryanair’s Kenny Jacobs.

Helen Coffey26 September 2018 15:09
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One Collective Labour Agreement (CLA) has already been reached between Ryanair and three Italian unions (none of which are involved in Friday's strike action).

 Covering all Ryanair’s Italian-based cabin crew from 1 October 2018, the proposed CLA will run for three years and addresses many of the concerns raised generally by international staff. 

The CLA will be governed by Italian law and the Italian Courts; allow Italian cabin crew to transition to local contracts over an agreed period with immediate access to Italian benefits such as maternity and paternity leave; deliver increased pay under a new pay structure, which will see crews benefit from increased tax free allowances (similar to other Italian airlines); and introduce an Italian Pension Scheme as part of the overall package.

"This follows recent cabin crew agreements in Ireland with FORSA and in the UK with UNITE," said Ryanair’s chief people officer, Eddie Wilson. 

"We have again invited our German, Portuguese and Spanish unions to meet with us so that we can negotiate and hopefully agree similar CLAs in these other larger markets."

Helen Coffey26 September 2018 15:54
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Although Ryanair has told customers that it will only be in touch if their flight is cancelled, mass confusion ensued on 26 September as around 7,000 passengers were emailed by the airline. Their flights, they were told, were not cancelled - yet - but they were given the option to re-book in case of "disruption".

If they opted not to change, Ryanair said that it “intends to operate as normal on Friday September 28.”

It adds: “Should this change Ryanair will notify you of any cancellation or delay via email and SMS.”

Helen Coffey26 September 2018 17:27
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German Ryanair pilots will join the strike tomorrow, union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) announced late on Wednesday.

The union called on all pilots permanently based in Germany to walk out from 03.01 on Friday until 02.59 on Saturday.

"No improved offer has been made to VC since the last industrial action on 12 September 2018," the pilots' union said in a statement. "In addition, no conciliation agreement has been reached between Ryanair and VC so far."

German pilots and cabin crew for Ryanair previously walked out on 12 September, which led to 150 out of 400 flights to and from German destinations being cancelled.

Cathy Adams27 September 2018 08:14
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Ryanair has released a statement calling the strike by the German pilots' union, Vereinigung Cockpit (VC), "unnecessary".

The budget airline also released a copy of a letter sent to the head of the union yesterday (26 September), following hours of negotiations in Frankfurt where it says it agreed to arbitration.

Peter Bellew, Ryanair's chief operations officer, said in a statement: “It is deeply disappointing that some of our customers and our people in Germany tomorrow will have their flights disrupted by an unnecessary strike called at short notice by the Lufthansa controlled VC Union."

The airline added it had written to all of its pilots based in Germany to ask them to work as normal tomorrow.

Cathy Adams27 September 2018 13:35
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In light of the German pilot strike tomorrow, Ryanair has pre-cancelled more flights.

Cathy Adams27 September 2018 14:54

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