Cabin crew stand up to Ryanair in unprecedented industrial action

July 26, 2018

With two days of unprecedented and highly impactful industrial action, Ryanair cabin crew have taken a major step in standing up to the company management and demanding a fair deal.

Workers based in Belgium, Spain and Portugal are reaching the end of their second planned strike day, while those based in Italy took industrial action yesterday. This is the first time that Ryanair cabin crew in multiple countries have taken such action.

Reports from ITF and ETF’s affiliate unions on the ground suggest that around 20% of flights across the entire Ryanair network were cancelled on Wednesday.

While Ryanair has been pressuring workers in other countries to undermine their striking colleagues, it has also stated that it will not pay out compensation to passengers affected by the strikes, as required under EU law. The company has shown itself to be unreliable for both passengers and workers.

Cabin crew were forced to resort to strike action due to Ryanair’s persistent failure to improve pay and working conditions.

Supported by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), earlier this month workers produced a Ryanair Crew Charter. This sets out demands including an end to poverty pay, no charges for drinking water while on shift, and the elimination of long-term agency employment.

Yet rather than engaging with its workers in good faith, Ryanair lost no time is denouncing these demands as “pointless”. Once again, the company missed an opportunity to deliver for both workers and passengers, and the result has been strike action.

Stephen Cotton, General Secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, said: “Over the last two days we have a seen a sharp contrast between the bravery of Ryanair workers and the incompetence of Ryanair management.”

“Instead of engaging with its workforce, Ryanair made some last-minute efforts to undermine the strike by forcing workers from elsewhere in Europe to cover for striking colleagues. Meanwhile, they also blamed Irish workers when announcing plans to reduce operations in Dublin. This immature anti-union approach and bullying tactics raise the question of whether the current management is capable of steering the company towards a sustainable, unionised business model.”

Eduardo Chagas, General Secretary of the European Transport Workers’ Federation, said: “These strikes send a very clear message: cabin crew will not give up until their demands for fair treatment are met. Ryanair cannot make this problem go away simply by ignoring its workers.”

“By standing up for their rights, cabin crew and their unions are challenging the culture of fear that has long existed at Ryanair. The company should come to the negotiating table in good faith and deliver real improvements for workers, or expect further strikes over the coming weeks and months.”

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