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photo: © Thorbjørn Brunander Sund, danishaviationphoto.com

Ryanair crew threaten “biggest-ever” strikes

Unions standing for cabin crew in five countries say they will extend the summer of strikes into the autumn.

Cabin crew working for Ryanair are threatening to stage the biggest strikes in the budget carrier’s history unless it agrees to better working conditions.

The news follows the Dublin-based airline’s worst-ever strikes this summer, as walkouts by pilots and cabin crew forced it to cancel flights during the especially vulnerable holiday period to destinations such as Italy, Spain and Portugal.

The airline’s management managed to reach a deal in August with striking Irish pilots and said it was hopeful that similar agreements were on the way in other markets.

But unions representing cabin staff in five countries – Italy, Portugal, Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands – published a joint letter on Friday threatening to extend the summer of strikes into the autumn.

These will be “the biggest strike action the company has ever seen” unless changes are made to working conditions, the letter says, following a meeting between the unions in Rome. They want employees to be given contracts under national law rather than Ryanair’s Irish contracts.

Pilots and ground staff too?
The strike would start in the last week of September – and a firm decision on whether to go ahead with this will be made by September 13.

“We want to solve this. We don’t want to strike,” claimed Fernando Gandra, director of the Portuguese union SNPVAC.

But he added that the two Italian unions signing the letter also have pilots who are members, and that the unions would invite pilots and ground staff across Europe to join the cabin crew in the mass walkout, The Guardian reports.

Ryanair says its staff have better conditions than many low-cost rivals and has not yet responded to media requests for comment. But it has confirmed it will reverse an earlier decision to move 20% of its Dublin-based fleet to Poland, which would have put the jobs of Irish pilots and cabin crew at risk.

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