Italian pilot association cancels strike after Ryanair recognizes unions

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Photograph artwork copyright © Travel Gazette. www.travel-gazette.com
Photograph artwork copyright © Travel Gazette. www.travel-gazette.com

Italy’s main association of pilots (ANPAC) cancelled a strike planned on Friday, after budget airline Ryanair offered to recognize unions for the first time ever.

“Having received a formal communication from Ryanair expressing their will to begin a path of recognition of union representatives, ANPAC suspends the strike of its flying staff (pilots and flight attendants) scheduled from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 15,” the union said in a statement.

Earlier on Friday, Ryanair had written to pilot unions in Ireland, Britain, Italy, Germany, Spain and Portugal “inviting each of them to talks to recognize these unions as the representative body for pilots in Ryanair in each of there countries,” according to the company.

“Ryanair will now change its long standing policy of not recognizing unions, in order to avoid any threat of disruption to its customers and its flights from pilot unions during Christmas week,” the management said.

Besides ANPAC, the largest association representing flying staff in Italy, all other unions called off a strike Friday. However, the FIT-CISL that said it has not received any communication from the Irish airline.

The strike had been called earlier this week, because unions said Ryanair had ignored all requests to open a negotiation to renew labor contracts for their staff in Italy.

The move sparked tension between the Irish company and Italian authorities, after Ryanair tried to discourage their staff working in Italy from joining the strike. The airline had in fact sent a letter to its cabin crews on Tuesday, warning them they might lose opportunities of pay rises and promotions if they took part in the protest.

Such communication was a violation of the Italian constitution (which recognizes strike as a citizen’s right), Italy’s authority overseeing the correct implementation of industrial actions (CGSSE) warned on Thursday.

“I also want to recall the Law n. 146 (ruling over strikes) bans business behaviors that may lead to a conflict (in negotiations), or bring about a deterioration of a conflict,” the watchdog chief Giuseppe Santoro Passarelli said. The authority can impose penalties on companies in case of “anti-union” conduct.

Italian Labor Minister Giuliano Poletti defined Ryanair’s threat as an “unworthy action” on Thursday. Both Economic Development Minister Carlo Calenda and Transport Minister Graziano Delrio censored the airline’s behavior as disrespectful of the country’s rules.

On Friday, after being told of Ryanair’s change of position, Calenda said the company’s will to recognize unions was not a concession, but “the bare minimum, and still not enough,” according to Ansa news agency.

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