The German pilots union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) has threatened Irish budget-airline Ryanair with strikes during the festive holidays.
According to Xinhua, the union told Ryanair that its pilots could join industrial action “anytime with immediate effect” in the latest escalation of a long-standing spat between the firm and its employees over working conditions.
“We are giving Ryanair a last chance to avert strikes in Germany by agreeing to hold negotiations over labor- and remuneration conditions without further delay,” VC president Ilja Schulz told press.
Nevertheless, Schulz noted that no strikes would occur during the days around Christmas between the 23rd and 26th of December.
Dublin-based Ryanair appeared unimpressed at the threats, commenting that it had received no corresponding notification from its German pilots.
The budget airline went on to describe VC as a “Lufthansa pilots’ trade union”, hinting at the involvement of its major commercial rival in the German aviation market in the dispute.
Ryanair would consequently not recognize the union, regardless of whether a strike actually occurred.
Offering cheap no-frills flights, Ryanair has grown into Europe’s largest airline since it was first established in 1985, overtaking even German market leader Lufthansa for total passengers transported in 2016.
However, critics have repeatedly attacked the budget airline for its allegedly poor treatment of employees. Michael Mueller, the ruling Mayor of Berlin, has gone as far as to describe Ryanair as an “employee-unfriendly” company.
In response, Ryanair Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Michael O’Leary ridiculed Mayor’s comments by publicly referring to Mueller as “Mad Mike”.
Ryanair has recently cancelled 20,000 flights in a move which the company said was aimed at enhancing punctuality. Industry experts cited by German media have argued that the decision was at least in part also due to a shortage of pilots.
According to VC, “nearly all other airlines” in Europe offered better working conditions than Ryanair, making it increasingly difficult for the firm to recruit staff in a competitive labor market.
“At the moment, Ryanair pilots are fleeing in hordes,” a statement by VC read.
Together with their German counterpart, Irish, Italian and Portuguese pilots unions have all joined in calls for strikes against Ryanair, raising the possibility of Europe-wide industrial action for the first time in the company’s history.
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