Fewer Strikes Could Be on the Horizon as Ryanair Settles Pilot Contract Drama in Italy
Ryanair, the low-cost carrier that has been plagued with pilots' strikes across Europe this summer, has finally settled the work conditions dispute in one country: Italy.
The agreement, announced on Tuesday, marks the first time the Dublin-based airline has settled with any labor union in its 30-year history. The details of the collective labor agreement signed with the Italian Airline Pilots Association were not immediately disclosed. Italy accounts for 20% of Ryanair's fleet and pilots.
Throughout the summer, Ryanair pilots have been striking and demanding higher wages and better work conditions. In addition to the carrier's Italian pilots, cockpit crew members in Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Belgium and Germany all participated in the demonstrations, too. The walkouts snarled hundreds of flights throughout Europe and left tens of thousands of passengers stranded.
The labor unions organizing the strike claim that “employees are hired by Ryanair or its subsidiaries under contracts governed by countries where they are not based, reducing their leave allowances, causing wage disparities and impeding the workers’ access to state benefits,” the AP reported in July.
Up until the agreement was signed, the budget airline maintained that its flight crews had fair work conditions and salaries.
“We welcome this first CLA with our Italian pilots and hope that it will be shortly followed by a similar agreement covering our Irish pilots," Eddie Wilson, Ryanair's chief people officer, said in a statement. "We have invited our UK, German and Spanish unions to meet with us in the coming days so that we can negotiate and hopefully agree similar pilot CLAs in these other larger markets. These agreements demonstrate the real progress being made by Ryanair in its negotiations with its pilots and their unions across different EU markets.”
The other European Ryanair pilots' unions held a meeting in Frankfurt last week and decided to hold more strikes but have yet to announce a date for the demonstrations, according to the Financial Times.
As a response to the strikes, Ryanair announced in July it would reduce its fleet at its Dublin base by 20% this winter (down from 30 aircraft to 24), with about 100 pilots and 200 cabin crew members facing potential layoffs.
The low-cost carrier only began to recognize labor unions for the first time in December 2017 in order to avoid another pilot strike during the busy holiday travel season.