Some Ryanair flight attendants went on strike in Belgium, Spain and Portugal on Friday in a dispute over pay and working conditions, causing limited disruption as the budget airline canceled dozens of flights, stranding hundreds of passengers.
The urging of inflation across Europe has left millions of workers grappling with higher living costs, prompting unions to demand higher wage increases, often backed by calls for strikes.
Airlines and airport operators across Europe are also struggling with staff shortages to handle the flow of passengers as demand for travel picks up again with most COVID-19 restrictions ending. Workers at several other airlines, including British Airways, are also planning strikes this summer.
Ryanair’s cabin crew unions in Belgium, Spain and Portugal called a three-day strike on Friday. Staff in France and Italy were expected to retire over the weekend. Crews in Spain are scheduled to strike again on June 30 and July 1 and 2.
Workers say the Irish airline is not respecting local labor laws, which cover issues like the minimum wage, and are urging Ryanair bosses to improve working conditions.
“Conditions are terrible,” said Ricardo Penarroias, president of SNPVAC, the union behind Portugal’s strike. “A crew member is not allowed to take even a bottle of water on a flight.”
Ryanair did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday, but told Reuters last week that it had negotiated employment contracts covering 90 per cent of its staff across Europe and that it did not expect widespread disruption this summer.
While much of the labor unrest has focused on the transport sector as it involves a return to travel after the pandemic lockdown, there are signs this is spreading to other sectors. French union CGT is organizing a day-long strike on Friday to demand higher wages for oil refinery workers after talks with operator TotalEnergies collapsed.
With inflation above 8% in the eurozone, a 40-year high of 9.1% in the UK and double-digit inflation in some central and eastern European economies, authorities fear a wage-price spiral is developing higher wage demands will increase inflationary pressures.
European Central Bank governor Christine Lagarde has warned that the longer inflation stays high, the more likely it will affect wage negotiations.
The unions of pilots and cabin crew at Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa’s Belgian subsidiary, also went on strike on Thursday. Brussels Airlines expects to cancel about 60 percent of its 533 flights over the three days.
Belgium is likely to be hardest hit by the Ryanair strike. Local media said 127 flights would be canceled at Brussels Charleroi Airport, affecting 21,000 passengers.
Two flights have been canceled in Lisbon on Friday, both to Brussels. A total of 18 Ryanair flights between Brussels and Spanish cities were canceled on Friday and Saturday, the Spanish cabin crew union USO said.
In Spain, the government forced the company to operate 73 to 82 percent of flights during the strike period to maintain minimum services, forcing most to go to work.
Union SNPVAC said not many flights were being canceled from Portuguese airports because the airline was putting strikers on standby and asking cabin crew in other countries to replace them. Ryanair said SNPVAC only represents 3% of its employees in Portugal.
Outside Lisbon airport, American Michael Rossides, 59, said he booked an EasyJet flight because he thought Ryanair would cancel, but that didn’t happen.
“We wasted quite a bit of time, a few extra hours and a few hundred dollars,” he said.
https://www.independent.ie/business/world/ryanair-cabin-crew-strike-cancels-dozens-of-flights-in-europe-41785643.html Ryanair cabin crew strike cancels dozens of flights in Europe