After a meeting which was deemed “constructive”, Ryanair still refuses to recognise Belgian unions

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The meeting described as historic between the union CNE-LBC and representatives of Ryanair was conducted in a “constructive” way, said the two parties at the end of the meeting this Friday. The Irish company still refuses to recognise a union delegation but proposes a salary increase of about 14% to the pilots. A new meeting is scheduled for the end of February.

Two representatives of the Christian trade union CNE-LBK and four pilots (from both the Brussels and Charleroi bases) met on Friday with Ryanair’s management at the Brussels Airport Sheraton hotel. They hope to establish a dialogue with the company and improve the working conditions of the staff.

The first claim of CNE is the recognition by Ryanair of a Belgian trade union delegation. Present after a trip from Dublin, Ryanair’s Chief People Officer Eddie Wilson (nicknamed “Terminator” by the staff) and the number two of the company Peter Bellew (former CEO of Malaysian Airlines) however did not accept this request. “Ryanair is afraid that by recognising unions, it must comply with Belgian law,” said Yves Lambot, CNE union representative.

The low-cost airline, reputedly mistrustful of the unions, is indeed not familiar with the Belgian social dialogue. CNE has been trying since 2011 to enforce the national social law for workers based in Belgium, but Ryanair insists to apply the Irish legislation. After a decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union in favour of the union, a judgment of the Court of Appeal of Mons is expected in June to resolve the issue.

Ryanair, for its part, proposed Friday a pay increase of about 14% for Belgian pilots. The company announced Thursday that British pilots have agreed to a salary increase of up to 20%.

But “the salary issue has never been part of our main demands,” retorted Yves Lambot, saying that Ryanair seeks to stop the departure of its pilots to other airlines.

In addition, the management did not propose anything for the cabin crew, which also faced strong pressures at work.

We have heard and listened to different points of view, the door is not closed, and the most important thing for us is to create a social dialogue,” says Lambot.

A new meeting is scheduled for the end of February.

Source: Belga and own information

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