Ryanair faces hardest strike in 34 years of existence
On Friday Ryanair pilots in Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany knocked off in the hardest strike in the 34 years of existence of the low-cost airline. With the strike more than 25.000 passengers see their flight cancelled.
The strike will have most impact in Germany, where 96% of the pilots voted for actions and 250 flights are cancelled. In Belgium 104 flights are scrapped. The German pilot union Vereinigung Cockpit is extremely powerful and was able to make Lufthansa’s life miserable for years. Now it sets its sights on Ryanair.
In spite of the common actions in all the European countries, there is little or no consultation between pilots. “We keep each other posted and we know what everyone does, but each country is working independently”, Isabelle De Gandt from the Belgian pilot union, Beca, says.
Demands of the Ryanair staff are the same everywhere. They want the company to respect local labour laws to be applied in the country they’re working in, not the – mostly leaner – Irish ones at the company’s headquarters. The catchphrase and hashtag ‘#RyanairMUSTchange’ is used in all countries. Not only by the staff, but also by dissatisfied customers.
So far Ryanair boss, Micheal O’Leary, refused to negotiate. In the Netherlands the company even tried to have a judge forbid the pilots to strike, something that was never done before. The Dutch judge, however, decided otherwise in summary proceedings.
O’Leary is known not to think highly of his staff. One of his famous quotes: “MBA students come out with: ‘My staff is my most important asset.’ Bullshit. Staff is usually your biggest cost. We all employ some lazy bastards who need a kick up the backside, but no one can bring themselves to admit it.”
Hard to find pilots
About the pilots specific, Ryanair manager, Kenny Jacobs, stated in a press release “The (Ryanair) pilots have excellent terms of employment and are paid better than their colleagues at Eurowings or Norwegian”.
But now that Ryanair has acknowledged the unions for the first time in its history out of sheer necessity, it can no longer ignore the demands of the employees. Especially pilots have economic circumstances on their side, as airlines have growing difficulties to find pilots to man their cockpits. At Ryanair today pilots have on average no longer careers than four years, shows the annual report.