Cabin crew flying out of Belgium for the low-cost airline Ryanair have announced their intention to strike for two days later in the month, on 25 and 26 July, a union representative confirmed. Strikes are also planned by pilots in Spain, Portugal and Italy. “Our people in Charleroi have taken a clear decision to join in,” said Paul Buekenhout of the ACV union, following the failure of talks with Ryanair management in Brussels.
Pilots were not represented at the meeting, and have yet to decide whether to join in the action with their southern European colleagues. Nevertheless, aircraft will be unable to take off without cabin crew.
The union claims to represent 30 to 40% of cabin crew working with Ryanair, suggesting the strike, regardless of the decision of pilots, could have a widespread effect. However unions also pointed out that Ryanair in past industrial actions has brought in staff from other countries to take part in strike-breaking.
Unions are demanding that cabin crew be recognised as employees by the airline; in many cases, personnel are officially employed by outside agencies. They also demand the application of Belgian labour laws, union recognition and a review of working conditions. At present, many Ryanair staff are employed under Irish law, despite never or rarely setting foot in the Republic.
Meanwhile Irish pilots voted overwhelmingly to strike on 12 July, affecting flights from Dublin to Zaventem and Charleroi.
Passengers affected by the cancellation of flights due to strike action can demand a full refund of the ticket price, or a replacement flight at no extra cost. Other compensation measures are possible, but under strict conditions. Anyone affected can contact consmer organisation Test-Achats on their website or by telephone on 02 892 37 08.