German union calls for Friday Ryanair strike | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 21.12.2017
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German union calls for Friday Ryanair strike

Passengers flying with Ryanair from Germany on Friday morning look set to face major disruption after the VC union representing several of the airline's pilots called for a four-hour strike from all German airports.

The union representing Ryanair pilots in Germany has announced that it is calling for the airline's permanently employed pilots to strike on Friday, December 22 from 5am to 9am (04.00 to 08:00 UTC) at all German airports.

Vereinigung Cockpit (VC), a German pilot trade union which represents a number of Ryanair pilots in the country, said the "warning strike" will affect all flights planned at German airports during that four-hour period. Ryanair says it intends to operate all flights as normal and has not cancelled any flights scheduled for that time.

VC were in Dublin this week with a view to meeting Ryanair and avoiding industrial action but the VC said in Thursday's statement that the talks were canceled at short notice because Ryanair refused to engage with two of the five VC members present at the negotiations.

"Ryanair's public offer to conduct negotiations with VC can only be classified as a further publicity stunt", said Ingolf Schumacher of the VC.

Read more: The changing skies of Europe

"In the history of the VC, there has never been a case in which the collective bargaining autonomy has been trampled on by an employer as it is now the case with Ryanair.

"This makes it clear to VC that the company is not interested in a mutually constructive cooperation, based on trust and equality. Rather, Ryanair is trying to win time and attempting to delay the beginning of collective bargaining," Schumacher said.

Around 16 Ryanair flights are due to depart from Germany in the specified four-hour period on Friday, but Ryanair says it has written to all its pilots, asking them to work as normal. 

"We advise all customers in Germany to turn up as normal tomorrow, as we plan to operate all scheduled flights," Ryanair spokesman Robin Kiely said. "We will be doing our utmost to minimise any disruptions to the Christmas travel plans of our German customers."

Strike action averted elsewhere for now

Earlier on Thursday, the VC sent a memo to its Ryanair pilots telling them to stay alert for a possible "call-for-strike" message on their phones later in the day.

Ryanair, on the other hand, said only that it had written to the VC "on a number of outstanding issues arising from the meeting in Dublin" and that it had agreed to meet the VC again on January 5. It added that it hoped that meeting would "resolve these issues which Ryanair expects will lead to a collective labour agreement for Ryanair’s pilots in Germany."

The news comes on the same day as the trade union representing several Ryanair pilots and captains in Ireland confirmed that the airline now officially recognises it as the representative body of its pilots in Ireland.

IMPACT, an umbrella union which covers several industries in Ireland, said in a statement: "Ryanair management has confirmed in writing that it now recognises IMPACT as the representative of the airline's pilots for collective bargaining purposes, with immediate effect."

The union had last week called a strike of its Ryanair pilots in Ireland for December 20 but then the Dublin-based airline broke with its 33-year policy of refusing to engage with unions and the strike was called off. IMPACT says the ongoing progress means "the danger of industrial action had receded for the present."

Meetings have taken place this week between Ryanair and IMPACT with the next key meeting scheduled for January 3, where the aim is to agree a recognition agreement that will establish collective bargaining procedures.

Read more: Up in the air? Ryanair's growing pains

Once that is agreed, IMPACT says, it intends to "move on to negotiate substantial issues around pilots' pay and working conditions."

"This advance is good news for Ryanair pilots, passengers and shareholders," said IMPACT official Ashley Connolly on Thursday.

aos/mm (dpa, Reuters)

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