herald

Saturday 17 November 2018

'Furious' Dutch pilots will join Ryanair strike after legal threat

Ryanair’s Kenny Jacobs
Ryanair’s Kenny Jacobs

Ryanair pilots in the Netherlands are set to join a walkout by their colleagues in four countries tomorrow after claiming the airline is taking legal action to stop them going on strike.

The Dutch VNV union said it is "furious" after being told the budget carrier is going to court in Haarlem today to "prevent a Ryanair pilot strike in the Netherlands during summer time".

"The Dutch Airline Pilots Association (VNV) is surprised but also furious about this attack on Dutch labour rights," said a spokesperson.

"Nowhere else in Europe has Ryanair started this type of lawsuit in recent months."

In a statement, the union said the European pilots' strike should be a "wake-up call" for Ryanair management and claimed the legal threat makes the decision "easier".

It said its demands, including having Dutch law applied to contracts, no more "bogus" self-employment and "sufficient" sick pay and pensions, are modest.

Ryanair did not respond to requests for a comment on the union's statement.

The number of passengers facing flight disruption tomorrow has risen to at least 67,000 as pilots in five countries - including Ireland - are set to hold a 24-hour stoppage.

Twenty flights are being cancelled to and from Ireland, 22 in Sweden, 104 in Belgium and 250 in Germany after Vereinigung Cockpit said its members would join the industrial action.

This brings the total number of flights that will be grounded to 396, without counting any potential cancellations in the Netherlands.

Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) said its members will strike from 3.01am tomorrow until 2.59am on Saturday.

The union said all permanent pilots employed at Ryanair stations in Germany will strike.

It added that it has received no "improved offer" from Dublin.

"In its letter to VC dated last week, Ryanair management confined itself to repeating and summarising what they considered to be the most relevant negotiating positions instead," the union said.

VC president Martin Locher said the union is demanding improvements in pay and working conditions.

Solutions

"Improvements are inconceivable without an increase in personnel cockpit costs," he said.

He added that Ryanair categorically ruled out any such increases at talks.

"At the same time, Ryanair has not shown any interest to find solutions," he said.

A Ryanair spokesperson said it has cancelled 250 of more than 2,400 flights scheduled to operate tomorrow in Germany.

It accused VC of refusing to give seven days' notice of the "unjustified" strike so it could minimise disruption.

It said the strike is unnecessary as Ryanair sent VC a revised proposal last Friday on a collective labour agreement and called for talks.

Ryanair's chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said it invited VC to meet yesterday but it did not respond.

"Our pilots in Germany enjoy excellent working conditions. They are paid up to €190,000 per annum and, as well as additional benefits, they received a 20pc pay increase at the start of this year," he said.

"Ryanair pilots earn at least 30pc more than Eurowings and 20pc more than Norwegian pilots."

Passengers have been offered refunds or other flights.

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