As Ryanair makes headway with unions across Europe, staff in Belgium are threatening several more walk-outs for 2018.
The Irish carrier says it has reached agreements with unions in Portugal, the UK and Italy this week and expects to reach a similar deal in Spain following negotiations.
However, Belgian unions CNE and LBC-NVK have yet to be won over by Ryanair’s attempts to smooth relations and have put the carrier on ‘probation’.
If Ryanair does not “radically change position and attitude”, the unions say they will announce several strike days throughout the rest of the year. The last strike on 28 September forced the carrier to cancel hundreds of flights.
Staff are rowing with the airline over its practice of holding European employees to Irish law – including requiring them to hold Irish bank accounts – which unions say hinders their access to local social security benefits.
The European Commission has weighed in on the issue as well, saying Ryanair should follow EU rules and allow employees to work on local contracts.
Commenting on the agreements reached with some unions, Ryanair’s chief people officer Eddie Wilson said: “The recent wave of airline failures in Europe, including Primera Air, Cobalt, Air Azur and Small Planet, as well as base closures/cuts announced by many of Europe’s major airlines in response to higher oil prices and lower air fares, have given a significant stimulus to these union negotiations over recent weeks.
“Ryanair’s pilots and cabin crew recognise that they enjoy better pay, better rosters, and significantly better job security than their counterparts at many other EU airlines, and we for our part are recognising and working with unions to conclude agreements which address the major issues of concern to our pilots and cabin crew in all major EU markets.”
Ryanair claims union members from rival airlines have incited the strikes and have ‘blocked progress’ in negotiations.