Tomorrow and Thursday, Ryanair cabin crew in Belgium, Italy, Portugal and Spain will be striking over the persistent failure of the company to improve their pay and working conditions.
These strikes come seven months after Ryanair finally agreed to recognise trade unions in December 2017. While a handful of recognition deals have been signed with unions in only three of 21 countries, progress has been painfully slow. There have so far been no concrete improvements in pay and conditions for any Ryanair workers across the network.
Earlier this month, cabin crew assembled in Dublin under the banner of Cabin Crew United for the first ever Ryanair Crew Summit. There they produced a Ryanair Crew Charter setting out their demands, including an end to poverty pay, no charges for drinking water while on shift, contracts under national rather than Irish law, and the elimination of long-term agency employment.
Rather than engaging with cabin crew in good faith, Ryanair instead lost no time in describing their demands as “pointless”. Workers in these four countries have resorted to strike action as a way of making their legitimate grievances heard, demonstrating what could be seen as a serious lack of competency from Ryanair.
While workers are beginning to stand up to the culture of fear at Ryanair, there is evidence that the company may still be attempting to scare its staff. Last week a survey was circulated asking cabin crew about their intentions for 25 and 26 July, which could amount to intimidation aimed at preventing the free exercise of their trade union rights.
ITF and ETF have warned Ryanair that any attempts to obstruct the right to strike – including the dismissal of striking workers and inducements on other workers to break strikes – could contravene international norms on freedom of association.
The company can still avert a summer of discontent if it comes to the negotiating table in good faith with unions chosen by workers and delivers concrete improvements in pay and working conditions. If it does not then further strikes are probable.
ITF and ETF support all lawful industrial action undertaken by their affiliate unions aimed at winning a fair deal for Ryanair workers.