Home Business a flurry of strike calls shakes low-cost airlines

a flurry of strike calls shakes low-cost airlines

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As the holidays approach, the European skies are far from looking good. Several low-cost airline unions have called for strikes in the coming weeks. While the period is marked by the end of health restrictions concerning Covid-19 and the sudden resumption of air traffic, the unions are warning about the working conditions of their employees.

At EasyJet, the Union Syndicale Ouvrier (USO) is planning a nine-day strike in July at the airports of Barcelona, ​​Malaga and Mallorca in the Balearic Islands. According to the union, “EasyJet cabin crew in Spain currently have a base salary of €950” per month, i.e. “lowest salary” of “all the bases in Europe”.

Competitor Ryanair, already at the heart of many controversies, must also face the wrath of its unions. In five countries, the unions are calling on the employees of the Irish company to strike next weekend. In Spain, France, Belgium, Portugal and Italy, hostesses and stewards are asking for labor law to be respected in their local legislation as well as an increase in their remuneration.

Ryanair sentenced for concealed work

In France “the company does not respect the rest times as provided for by the civil aviation code”, explains the representative of the National Union of Commercial Flight Crew (SNPNC) Damien Mourgues. In particular, this imposes a minimum downtime of 6 hours for any flight period less than or equal to 6 hours. His union is also asking for a salary increase for employees who are paid the minimum wage..

All the unions also denounce “lack of water and food for on-board personnel”the “disregard of medical certificates”a “lower wages under threat of collective dismissal” and require the application, as quickly as possible, “of the court decision” aimed at their employer. The company, for its part, said it was negotiating “In recent months there has been an improvement in collective agreements, which concern 90% of employees in Europe”.

Last May, the company received a heavy sentence “for concealed work” at Marignane airport, near Marseille. Confirming a decision of the judge at first instance, the Paris Court of Appeal declared Ryanair guilty of having hired 127 French employees under Irish contracts between 2007 and 2010, thus avoiding paying social security contributions in France.

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“Low cost is always done on the backs of employees”

“They used the same mechanism as for tax evasion, sums up Éric Rocheblave, a social law lawyer based in Montpellier. The company has resorted to legal arrangements to overcome national law in order not to pay taxes and to subject its employees to the rules of Irish law, which are more flexible and in favor of the employer. »

The company that was also found guilty “Obstacles to the exercise of trade union rights” and other offensess was ordered to pay a fine of €200,000 and 7.5 million in damages.

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If Ryanair is an example, this mode of operation is far from being an isolated case, underlines Éric Rocheblave: “This is the problem of low cost, it is always done on the backs of workers. The price of fuel is fixed, the cost of maintaining an aircraft is fixed. So, where the company saves money is on the salaries of its staff. »

To make matters worse, the sector has been experiencing great difficulty in recruiting for several months. After two difficult years, the activity is picking up again but the companies fear a lack of airline pilots to keep up. Faced with these understaffing, unions denounce too high rates. This is particularly the case within the Belgian company Brussels Airlines, where the unions of pilots and flight attendants have called for a strike from Thursday to Saturday inclusive.

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