German Ryanair pilots stage full-day walkout, threaten more

Union calls for airline to agree to mediation in its dispute over pay and terms

Empty Ryanair check-in counters in Weeze, Germany, on Wednesday. Photograph: AP

Empty Ryanair check-in counters in Weeze, Germany, on Wednesday. Photograph: AP

 

Pilots and cabin crew at Ryanair in Germany staged a full-day walkout on Wednesday and threatened further strikes to put pressure on management in labour talks with Europe’s biggest budget airline.

Ryanair had said on Tuesday it would cancel 150 out of a total 400 flights scheduled to fly to and from Germany on Wednesday due to the strike, and warned that such “wildcat” strikes would lead to job cuts if they continued.

German pilot union Vereinigung Cockpit has called on Ryanair to agree to mediation in its dispute over pay and terms, but there has been disagreement over who the mediator should be. The union threatened that it could call further strikes if management does not make a better offer.

“As long as Ryanair does not make improved offers, there may have to be further strikes here,” said Vereinigung Cockpit negotiator Ingolf Schumacher. Ryanair said its latest offer to the union addressed all of the union’s demands and that the walkouts were unreasonable.

The airline has come under fire from unions, especially in Germany, for its practice of employing some pilots via third-party agencies, such as McGinley Aviation. The airline last year decided to recognise unions in an attempt to improve relations with its pilots and ease a staffing crunch. German services union Verdi is seeking a substantial pay increase as well as local contracts for about 1,000 cabin crew at Ryanair. It said management had, however, offered local contracts only from 2022.

Cheaper than the taxi ride

“If you buy a ticket which is cheaper than the taxi ride to the airport, everyone should realise that something is wrong with the system, that these prices can’t fund the company,” Verdi spokesman Andreas Splanemann said at Berlin’s Schoenefeld airport.

At Germany’s biggest airport in Frankfurt, union members carried banners reading “Ryanair stop squeezing your crew” through a terminal. The carrier suffered its worst-ever strikes this summer, but secured a breakthrough in August when it reached a deal with Irish pilots and said it was hopeful it could agree deals in other markets soon.

Last week, however, seven trade unions representing Ryanair cabin crew in Italy, Portugal, Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands threatened to hold a strike in late September unless the airline agreed to improve working conditions. – Reuters