Belgian-based cabin crew of low-cost airline Ryanair will go on strike for three days from 24 to 26 June, Christian union CNE and ACV Puls announced on 17 June, according to Belgian broadcaster RTBF.
The strike marks an end to a series of abortive negotiations between the unions and Ryanair. Cabin crews from five countries, including Belgium, had complained of unfair staffing practices, a lack of respect towards employees, and issues with pay. Throughout the negotiations, the Belgian unions accused Ryanair of not agreeing to a “genuine dialogue.”
The strike action will also take place amongst Spanish staff, who will strike from 24–26 June, and 30 June to 2 July. Belgian pilots had previously promised solidarity with cabin crew and will join the new strike action.
The Irish airline sent a final proposal to the Belgian unions on 17 June, but the Belgian unions rejected it as it did not meet the demands of the cabin crew. “We were at the end of our tether with the negotiations,” stated Didier Lebbe, secretary of the CNE.
- Ryanair crews complain of lack of drinking water for own staff on flights, unless they pay for it
- Ryanair cancellations: Belgian government to take action over compensation fiasco
At a press conference in Brussels on 14 June, Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary stated that the company expected little to no disruption to customers’ travel plans, even in the event of a strike.
“We hope there won’t be a strike but if there is, most people won’t even notice it,” O’Leary said. Ryanair had previously claimed that it struck a deal with around 90% of Belgian cabin crew staff over wages, a claim later rejected by the Belgian unions.
This announcement is the latest in a long line of industrial action that will cause travel disruption for holidaymakers in Belgium. From 20 June, security guards will go on strike and paralyse operations at Brussels International Airport.
In April, Ryanair cabin crew in Belgium staged a walkout in protest at the failure to reach a new collective agreement on wages and bonuses. At both Brussels airports, around 280 flights were cancelled. Ryanair claims that only around 40% of Belgian flights were affected by the walkout.
It remains to be seen whether the new strikes will cause significant disruption to summer travel plans. Around 150 flights from Belgium's flagship carrier Brussels Airlines have already been cancelled this summer, due to similar union action.