Ryanair pilots based in Belgium will be striking again on 29 and 30 July, as previous actions have not yet determined the airline’s management to negotiate salaries and working hours.
The company has shown a “total disrespect” for the pilots, a spokesperson for the CNE/ACV Puls unions said when confirming the strike. Since the airline’s base at Brussels Airport was closed at the beginning of 2023, the action will mostly impact flights at Charleroi Airport (Brussels South). 120 Ryanair flights were also cancelled at the Charleroi Airport during the pilots’ strike on 15 and 16 July.
Ryanair is now once again making 1.8 billion euros in profits, Charleroi is the second most profitable base, but the company does not want to share its profits with their pilots.Hans Elsen, Secretary ACV Puls union
When Covid-19 broke out and travel restrictions left airlines basically without business, many resorted to firing staff, but Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s CEO decided to lower everyone’s salary, including his own, and keep everybody employed. The pilots signed an agreement in 2020 to have their salaries reduced by 20% under the condition of having the pay brought back as soon as the crisis would end. However, Christian trade union CNE/ACV Puls said the pilots signed the 2020 agreement only because they were being threatened and blackmailed.
Moreover, the pilots’ current labour agreement states they have to be on stand-by 5 days a week, meaning they should be prepared to fly at any time in case they are needed, and Ryanair wants to extend that to 6 days, without compensating for the lost day off. “Belgian legislation clearly states that Ryanair cannot change this unilaterally. They have already received several notifications about that, but they just ignore them”, explained Hans Elsen, Secretary of ACV Puls. “In theory Ryanair follows Belgian rules, but in practice they implement what they want without taking working conditions into account.”
Starting in the summer of 2022, Ryanair has been hit by multiple strikes from the Belgian based staff, both pilots and cabin crew, but the only response from management was a threat to completely leave the country. In January 2023, strikes by cabin crew forced Ryanair to cancel over 200 flights on New Year’s weekend and the following one.
The personnel have complained multiple times about their wages still not being back to pre-Covid levels and, despite the airline posting a profit of €170 million in the first quarter of 2022 and CEO Michal O’Leary’s salary going up, the staff’s pleas have so far been left without a satisfactory reply.