August 1, 2018 / 9:10 AM / 2 months ago

Ryanair pilots in Sweden and Belgium serve strike notice

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ryanair (RYA.I) pilots in Sweden and Belgium told the company on Wednesday that they will go on strike on Aug. 10, and the airline said it may face industrial action in Germany and the Netherlands on the same day.

FILE PHOTO - A Ryanair airplane takes off from the airport in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, July 29, 2018. REUTERS/Paul Hanna

Ryanair has experienced recent strikes in some of its bigger markets including Spain, Portugal and Ireland as the budget carrier struggles to reach collective labour agreements across Europe.

The Irish airline, Europe’s largest by passenger numbers, has responded by threatening to move jobs away from any bases affected by the stoppages, beginning with Dublin where it cut its winter fleet by 20 percent last week.

The Swedish Airline Pilots Association, which has around 40 Ryanair employees, attributed its action to management’s failure to meet with union representatives for more than eight months.

In Belgium, where Ryanair cabin crew have already gone on strike, unions called on pilots there to support their Irish colleagues with a strike on the same day.

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“We have also been notified of possible strike actions by pilot unions in Germany and the Netherlands which we believe will be coordinated and occur on Aug 10,” Ryanair said in a statement.

It said it had written to each union in recent days and invited them to discuss their grievances.

“In the interim, we have requested these pilot unions to give us 7 days’ notice of any planned strike action so that we can notify our customers of cancelled flights in advance and offer them alternative flights or refunds.”

The airline’s shares closed down 4.2 percent at 13.50 euros, their lowest since March 2017 and below the level they sunk to in December when Ryanair shocked the markets by recognising its employees’ unions.

Ryanair, which operates from 86 bases in 37 countries and carried 130 million passengers last year, decided to recognise unions for the first time in its 32-year history last December to avert widespread strikes before Christmas.

“Ever since Ryanair announced that it will be recognising unions for pilots all over Europe, the developments have been similar everywhere,” the Swedish union said in a statement.

“No collective agreements have been agreed anywhere in Europe and Ryanair’s hostile relations with its employees once again showed on several occasions, lately through intimidation and threats to Irish pilots after they used their legal right to strike.”

Reporting by Padraic Halpin and Conor Humphries in Dublin, Anna Ringstrom in Stockholm; editing by Jason Neely and Louise Heavens

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