The biggest strike in Ryanair’s history looms for the last week of September, said the various European unions that met in Rome on Friday.
The date will be communicated at a new meeting of these organisations in Brussels next Thursday. Sporadic actions country by country cannot be excluded by the end of the month.
Several European unions (Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Italy and the Netherlands) representing Ryanair’s cabin crew members met in Rome to assess the impact of the strike actions undertaken this summer and to consider the follow-up. Also present at the meeting were representatives of pilots and ground staff.
In the various countries concerned, these organisations have been demanding for months the application of the various national labour laws instead of the Irish legislation. Countries like Germany and Sweden had also joined their movement during the summer.
After months of discussions and “meaningless meetings“, the unions note that no progress has been recorded. According to them, the management of Ryanair continues to ignore the national and European legislation.
The airline has also started a new intimidation process against the strikers: they are now threatened with a blockage of their careers and can no longer ask to be transferred to another base, according to the unions’ press release (UILtrasporti and FILT-CGIL for Italy, SNPVAC in Portugal, CNE/LBC for Belgium, SITCPLA and USO in Spain and FNV in the Netherlands).
Faced with this situation, they once again ask the political authorities, in particular in Belgium, to intervene in this matter and enforce the laws. The unions also ask to meet with the European Commission next Thursday to express their demands.
What they require is “very simple“, they say: “local legislation, local contracts and local standards. And we will not back down until these demands are met,” they warn.
“We all want Ryanair’s success, but not at any cost, and certainly not at the expense of the most basic workers’ rights,” said the unions, who appeal to the company’s shareholders, who are also witnesses to the stalemate.
The shareholders must meet on September 20 for a general meeting. “The opportunity to put Ryanair on the right track and ensure a long and sustainable model more suited to Europe of the 21st century” to bring the company “to the level where we all want to see it happen“, according to the workers’ representatives.
Unions and employees, who hope for a change at the head of Ryanair, will follow the outcome of this shareholders’ meeting. “If the management of the company does not want to make the necessary changes, then we will have no choice but to respond with the biggest strike action the company has ever seen,” they say.
The date will be fixed and communicated next Thursday, at a new meeting of the unions, in Brussels this time (scheduled for the morning at the Brussels headquarters of the CNE). Other organisations could join the movement, they suggest.
“We also do not exclude actions, such as strikes, more sporadic country by country by the end of the month,” says Didier Lebbe, permanent secretary of the Belgian Christian trade union, present in Rome.
The various European unions had already met in Lisbon and Madrid in the spring. This ultimately led to a two-day strike of cabin crew in Belgium, Spain and Portugal, one day in Italy.
A strike by Ryanair pilots in Belgium, Sweden, Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands two weeks later affected nearly 55,000 passengers.
Update: the probable date of the strike has been set at Friday, 28 September.