Ryanair strike: Everything you need to know about September 2018's industrial action

German pilots have just announced they will join the mass walkout

Helen Coffey
Friday 28 September 2018 09:57
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Simon Calder: Ryanair cabin crew from five European countries announce one-day strike

German pilots’ union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) has announced it will join Ryanair cabin crew and pilots from five different countries in striking for 24 hours on Friday 28 September.

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

They will join some pilots and crew from Spain, The Netherlands, Italy, Portugal and Belgium, who confirmed the 24-hour stoppage would go ahead earlier this month after a long battle with the low-cost airline over the application of various national labour laws instead of Irish legislation.

“We all want Ryanair’s success, but not at any cost, and certainly not at the expense of the most basic workers’ rights,” the unions said.

Here’s everything you need to know about Friday’s walkout.

When is the strike?

On Friday 28 September at 12am (GMT) for a full 24 hours. German pilots will be on strike from 3.01am on Friday until 2.59am on Saturday.

Who is striking?

Nine unions in six countries have advised their members who work for Ryanair to strike: Germany’s VC, 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. Members of these unions who are Ryanair pilots in Germany, pilots and crew in Italy and the Netherlands, and cabin crew in Belgium, Spain and Portugal will join the walkout.

How will I know if my flight is affected?

Customers should have received an email and text if their flight is cancelled, with the option to book onto an alternative Ryanair flight, request a refund or, if no appropriate alternative is given, request to be flown with another airline.

All Ryanair customers flying on Friday 28 who have not yet received an email or text SMS notice can expect their flight to operate as scheduled.

“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,” said Ryanair’s Kenny Jacobs.

“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.”

How many flights will be cancelled?

Ryanair has so far cancelled at least 250 flights, with around 40,000 passengers likely to be affected.

However, an extra 7,000 passenger were contacted by the airline with the option of rebooking onto another flight in case of “disruption”. If they take no action, the airline says: “If you decide to remain on your scheduled flight Ryanair 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.”

Passengers’ rights will be unaffected if they take no action. Airlines that cancel flights are obliged to provide replacement flights, accommodation and meals.

Stansted, the airline’s biggest base in Europe, is the worst-affected airport. Twenty flights, mainly to and from Germany, have been cancelled.

Why are they striking?

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.

Ryanair announced on 25 September that it had signed a Collective Labour Agreement (CLA) with Italy’s three main cabin crew unions – FIT CISL, ANPAC, and ANPAV – that reflects this.

The CLA means that from 1 October Italian crew will be governed by Italian law and the Italian Courts and can be transitioned to local contracts over an agreed period with immediate access to Italian benefits such as maternity and paternity leave. It also includes a new pay structure that will see crews benefit from increased tax free allowances, and the introduction of an Italian Pension Scheme.

Ryanair has also agreed to move to local contracts, local law and local taxation as quickly as possible in 2019, subject to reaching CLA agreements with national unions in each country it’s currently in negotiations with.

Europe’s biggest airline has accused rival airlines of stirring discontent among its employees. In a statement, the 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.”

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