July 30, 2018 / 12:32 PM / in 16 days

Ryanair strikes widen as German pilots vote for stoppages

BERLIN (Reuters) - German pilots working for Ryanair (RYA.I) have overwhelmingly voted to strike as they push for collective labour agreements at Europe’s largest low-cost carrier, their union said on Monday, adding to Ryanair’s recent strike woes.

A Ryanair plane takes off from Palma de Mallorca airport in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, July 28, 2018. REUTERS/Paul Hanna

Ryanair management had met with the Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) pilot union in Frankfurt last week. VC said the talks ended without the progress they had hoped for.

The union is giving Ryanair until Aug. 6 to make another offer, VC said in a statement, announcing it would hold a press conference on Aug. 8 to discuss its next steps.

Ryanair said in response it had on Monday invited the union to another meeting next week.

“We hope we can make further progress in concluding a collective labour agreement with our pilots in Germany,” the carrier said.

Ryanair said in December it would recognise unions for the first time but has been struggling to reach agreements with some. It cancelled flights after strikes last week by Dublin-based pilots and stoppages by cabin crew in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Belgium.

It also said it planned to shift aircraft and jobs out of Dublin, saying that strikes by Irish pilots had harmed bookings.

Ryanair pilots across Europe are demanding more transparent systems for promotions and transfers to reduce what they say is excessive management discretion over their careers, while cabin crew want local contracts and better conditions.

Ryanair says it offers some of the best conditions among low-cost carriers in Europe and its CEO Michael O’Leary said last week the company would not concede to demands that would impact its low fares business model. Strikes were one of the reasons it gave a more downbeat assessment of summer fares.

VC said 96 percent of Ryanair pilots in Germany voted in favour of strike action. It will give at least 24 hours’ notice of any strikes, it said.

“Ryanair has been playing for time in the negotiations since January,” VC said. “If the signal given by this vote is not taken seriously, then strikes - such as in other European countries - are inevitable.”

German pilots were the first to strike at Ryanair last year, but the disruption was limited.

Reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Angus MacSwan and David Evans

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