September 19, 2018 / 9:07 AM / a month ago

Belgian union turns down Ryanair offer ahead of planned strike

BRUSSELS, Sept 19 (Reuters) - The union representing cabin crew in Belgium turned down an offer by Irish airline Ryanair ahead of a planned strike on Sept. 28, it said on Wednesday.

Europe’s largest low-cost airline offered to follow Belgian employment law from March 2020 for Ryanair contracted employees, addressing one of the major complaints over the company’s policy to staff under Irish contract.

The Belgian union, CNE, said that would only help about half of workers, as Ryanair has also been hiring under Crewlink contracts, the statement said.

The union said the offer was an “unacceptable” attempt to divide workers in order to buy time ahead of the planned strike.

“It’s a deception on the part of Ryanair,” CNE spokesman Yves Lambot told Reuters.

Ryanair did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The threatened strike by cabin crews in Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain is aimed at pressuring shareholders set to meet on Sept. 20 to address Ryanair’s labour agreements, union officials announced last week.

The 24-hour strike is planned for Sept. 28 and unions will strike once a month until demands are met.

The Belgian union met with Ryanair officials before announcing the strike and asked for an offer by Tuesday. The offer was made on Tuesday evening, Lambot said.

A Ryanair board member said on Tuesday that the CEO, Michael O’Leary, would continue at the company’s top for at least five more years.

“That would be a disappointment” and would not show a change in attitude within the company, Lambot said.

The airline is striving for a union agreement in Germany before Christmas, following strikes by cabin crews and pilots this month and threatened further strikes. (Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis; editing by Louise Heavens)

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