Following failed consultations with Irish low-cost company Ryanair's management, the airline's cabin crew in Brussels Airport and Charleroi airport will go on a three-day strike, from Friday 22 to Sunday 24 April.
The strike was announced after Ryanair's management and the trade unions failed to reach an agreement in their negotiations on cabin crew salaries and bonuses, among other things. A final mediation attempt between the staff representatives and the management "has not led to the hoped-for solutions," the unions told Het Nieuwsblad.
The three-day strike comes as Ryanair "simply ignores the fundamental rights of their Belgian employees," Hans Elsen, representative of the Christian trade union ACV Puls, told the Belga News Agency. "Despite numerous mediation attempts, solutions remain absent."
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The National Central Employees (CNE) pointed out that as many as 75% of staff are paid the minimum wage in the sector, "even if they work early, late, on weekends and on public holidays."
"All this for a paltry gross amount of €2,000. Although Ryanair has a 30% profit margin at Charleroi and is expected to make a billion euros this year, there is apparently no margin for improving the purchasing power of the workers."
What the precise inconvenience will be for passengers planning to fly at the end of the week is not yet clear, but it seems inevitable that the impact will be significant.
At both airports, a total of about 650 people are working for Ryanair. Yet, the company has no Human Resources department in Belgium – which is why the wages are not paid correctly, according to the unions.
"Some staff members who are no longer allowed to fly because of pregnancy, for example, have been without pay or benefits for months," said Elsen.