August 20, 2019 / 1:09 PM / 4 months ago

Don't help Ryanair during Portugal strike, Belgian unions tell members

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Belgium’s CNE and ACV PULS trade unions have told members not to comply with a Ryanair (RYA.I) request to staff flights affected by a planned strike by Portuguese crew from Wednesday, a letter sent to the airline seen by Reuters showed.

FILE PHOTO: Ryanair logo is pictured on the the jacket of a cabin crew member ahead of a news conference by Ryanair union representatives in Brussels, Belgium September 13, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Unions in Ireland, Britain, Spain and Portugal have announced plans to strike in the coming weeks, a year after a wave of strikes over pay and conditions forced Europe’s largest budget carrier to cancel hundreds of flights.

Ryanair has said it expects minimal disruption from the walkouts which are scheduled to begin with a five-day strike by Portuguese cabin crew trade union SNPVAC.

It said on Tuesday that a small number of flights from its Portuguese bases may be affected by minor schedule changes for five days from Aug. 21 and that all affected customers had already been notified.

In the letter to Ryanair, the two Belgian unions said cabin crew and pilots stationed in Belgium had been asked to staff some affected flights.

“Unfortunately we had to conclude that Ryanair decided to import the conflict that is going on in Portugal to Belgium... We cannot agree with this state of affairs and will therefore call on our members not to staff these flights,” they said.

A spokesman for Portugal’s SNPVAC union said it had received information that flights will be operated by crews from other bases and that this was a “violation of the right to strike.”

Ryanair managed to quell last year’s disputes by striking pay deals with many staff in Europe after agreeing to recognize trade unions for the first time, but it has failed to do so with others and further angered unions by telling staff last month that it had 900 more pilots and crew than it needed.

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.

The SITCPLA and USO workers’ unions’ threat of strike action is aimed at preventing closure of bases at Girona, Gran Canaria, and Tenerife South airports. The unions said on Tuesday that it had still not received any information on the base closures.

Ryanair’s chief people officer told Reuters last week that the Gran Canaria and Tenerife South would likely close as part of plans to cut is presence on the ground in airports due to delays in the delivery of the grounded Boeing 737 MAX.

A final decision had yet to be made on how many bases, jobs and routes would be cut, he added.

Reporting by Padraic Halpin and Conor Humphries in Dublin, Catarina Demony in Lisbon; editing by Jason Neely and Marguerita Choy

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