Irish court blocks Ryanair strike, Portugal action underway

Ryanair is battling to contain a wave of unrest among workers around a year after strikes over pay and conditions forced the Irish airlines to cancel hundreds of flights. (AFP pic)

LISBON: Ireland’s high court on Wednesday granted Ryanair an injunction to prevent its Dublin-based pilots from going on strike this week in a setback to union hopes for a wave of industrial action against Europe’s biggest budget airline.

Separately, a five-day strike by Ryanair’s cabin crew in Portugal got underway, but disruption to passengers appeared minimal, with no cancelled flights or major delays so far.

A UK court is due to rule later on Wednesday whether Ryanair’s British pilots can go ahead with their planned strike on Thursday – the same day as the proposed action in Ireland.

Ryanair is battling to contain a wave of unrest among workers around a year after strikes over pay and conditions forced the Irish airlines to cancel hundreds of flights.

The company welcomed the Irish court ruling, saying all flights scheduled to depart on Aug. 22 and 23 from Irish airports would operate as normal.

Ryanair said on Tuesday a small number of fights from its Portuguese bases might be affected by minor schedule changes due to the five-day strike called by the SNPVAC union, and that affected customers had been notified.

SNPVAC president Luciana Passos said 70%-80% of crew members were currently on strike, though there were no major delays or cancellations at Lisbon, Porto and Faro airports,

“This (strike) is an attempt to once again draw attention to the problems faced by Ryanair crew members, to the way Ryanair operates in Portugal and the total impunity with which Ryanair operates,” Passos said.

Ryanair’s management say significant progress has been made since last year’s strikes, with collective labour agreements concluded with a number of pilot unions throughout Europe.

But SNPVAC said Ryanair had refused to comply with a protocol signed last November, which it said included holiday pay, 22 days of annual leave per year and full compliance with Portuguese parental law.

At the height of the summer season, Portugal’s government set out a minimum service for Ryanair and its staff to deliver, including a daily round trip between Lisbon and London.

SNPVAC said the minimum service order was “abusive” and undermined the right to strike.

Belgium’s CNE and ACV PULS unions told members on Tuesday not to comply with a Ryanair request to staff flights affected by the Portuguese action.

Spain’s STICPLA union also sent a letter to members, advising they were not obliged to “answer company calls” if they were in their rest time, on days off or on holiday.

Unions representing cabin crew in Spain said their plans for 10 days of strikes next month still stood after more than seven hours of mediated talks with the airline ended on Tuesday without agreement.