Ryanair cabin crew have announced their forthcoming strike dates over working conditions and pay, and anyone planning to travel with the low-cost carrier should be prepared for delays and possible cancellations.
Flight attendants in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Belgium will down tools on Wednesday and Thursday, July 25 and 26 – independently of the 24-hour pilot strike in Ireland over Thursday, July 12.
They are calling for their working conditions to be streamlined with legislation in the countries where they are based where these are an improvement on existing terms, and for the company to officially recognise their union representatives whose role it is to negotiate on their behalf.
Spanish cabin crew unions USO and SITCPLA, Portugal’s SNVPAC, Italy’s UILTRASPORTI and Belgium’s CNE-LBC represent around 4,000 flight attendants in total, of whom 1,800 are in Spain, one of Ryanair’s largest markets.
They staged a conference in Brussels to announce details of the airline’s first coordinated multi-national strike – and SITCPLA leader Monique Duthiers asked the media not to photograph members present since ‘even now, in 2018′, they were among hundreds of thousands of employees in companies based in the EU who feared repercussions from exercising their right to strike.
Sra Duthiers stressed that the union representatives were not Ryanair employees themselves, but spokespersons for different workers’ groups in each of the four countries, since the airline’s staff say they are worried about ‘reprisals’ if they continue with their protest.
Among the issues, Sra Duthiers raised were those of allowing workers to ‘choose who represents them’ in their company, and ‘an end to the pathological conglomeration’ of ‘temping agencies’ which ‘only work for Ryanair and are in the same building’.
Sra Duthiers and other union representatives said Ryanair would call its cabin crew to the airports to cover flights and, if these did not take off for any reason, would not pay them for the hours they spent waiting or preparing.
Cabin crew are not paid until doors-to-manual and cease earning once passengers start to disembark, meaning they do not earn anything for boarding travellers and helping them stow their hand luggage.
Criticism was also made about maternity and paternity leave, and about the fact that the crew are ‘not even allowed to drink the water they serve on the plane’ unless they pay for it themselves.
Ryanair in Spain has said the strikes ‘do not make sense’, because ‘cabin crew can earn up to €40,000 a year’, work ‘five days on, three days off’, cannot fly more than 900 hours a year, receive free training, and earn a commission from anything they sell on board.