Ryanair strike threat in Italy recedes amid questions over legality

Industrial action by cabin crew and pilots pencilled in for Friday has been postponed

There are concerns that Ryanair crew members who are not trade union members would not have the same protections under Italian law as those who are if they took part in industrial action. Photograph: Regis Duvignau/Reuters

There are concerns that Ryanair crew members who are not trade union members would not have the same protections under Italian law as those who are if they took part in industrial action. Photograph: Regis Duvignau/Reuters

 

The prospect of Ryanair workers in Italy striking on Friday has gone as some trade unionists question whether the airline’s crew based in the country are legally protected when taking industrial action.

Ryanair cabin crew and pilots, some members of Italian transport union Fit-Cisl, were considering striking on Friday, but that has now been postponed.

Transport unions in the European country are weighing a more general strike in November, sparked by concerns over the future of insolvent national carrier Alitalia and the impact of other recent European airline failures.

It is not clear if any Ryanair crew could take part in that action, should it go ahead. A small number of its Italian staff are trade union members, although the airline does not negotiate with unions.

There are concerns that crew members who are not trade union members would not have the same protections under Italian law as those who are if they took part in any industrial action.

“That is what we are trying to get a handle on, that is just not clear and we have to get a lawyer to look at it,” one source said.

Rumour or speculation

The airline said that it does not comment on rumour or speculation. There have been several reports of planned strikes at the airline’s Italian operation, but none have gone ahead.

Ryanair negotiates through employee representative councils at each of its 87 bases, an industrial relations system that it points out has been approved by the Republic’s Supreme Court.

However, a group of pilots wants a collective bargaining system, organised at a regional level, through an organisation called the European Employee Representative Council (EERC).

The EERC this week called for wage increases turned down by pilots at Ryanair’s London Stansted Airport base to be doubled and offered to cockpit crews across the airline.

Ryanair dismissed the organisation as “rerun” of the Ryanair Pilots’ Group and the Ryanair European Pilots’ Association. The airline said that both were defunct and that it had not met or negotiated with either organisation. The airline added that it “ won’t be meeting with this so-called EERC now”.

Reports of growing unrest among the airline’s pilots began to emerge following news that Ryanair was cancelling flights up to March, affecting about 700,000 passengers.

The airline has said that pilots at 10 of its bases recently accepted its offers of better pay and conditions. It also maintains that it is recruiting pilots from rivals such as Norwegian and Jet2.

Key figures from US pilots’ unions are due to meet Ryanair crew in Dublin on Thursday.

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