Pilots and flight attendants line up in France to demand better pay and better working conditions after two years of trying to make up for the losses caused by the Kovid-19 pandemic as they begin operations for “low cost” airlines. Ryanair, Volotea, Vueling: Strike notices have been on the rise in low-cost companies in France in recent weeks.
“Given the efforts we made during the Covid-19s, we look forward to a fair return,” explains Jean Patrickinen, union representative for the National Union of Airline Pilots (SNPL) in Ryanair. Last year, the pilots of the Irish company agreed to reduce their wages by 20% to overcome the crisis facing the airline sector. But “now we’re back to normal work,” says Jean Patrickinen, who calls for “an acceleration in the recovery of our wages.” The agreement signed with the management provides a very slow recovery to return to normal in 2025. The “unacceptable” speed provided by the “very strong recovery” expected by group boss Michael O’Leary.
Wages were cut during the crisis
The SNPL on Thursday withdrew its notice after it threatened to strike on Saturday (67% of pilots declared themselves on strike) after management assured them that talks would resume after months of silence. On the low-cost Spanish airline Volotia, the strike continues this weekend. “The situation has been deteriorating for two years,” said SNPL union spokesman Christoph Hanott.
However, initially, “everyone thought it was necessary for employees to adapt to the situation,” he says. Captains agreed to cut their salaries by 25 percent and co-pilots by 10 percent.
The move ended early in the year but the management returned to the charge in March, demanding a further reduction in pay. “Except that the probability of 2022 is much higher than the figures of 2019,” Christoph Hanott was outraged. “I think Kovid-19 has been used by (” low-cost “companies) to make working conditions worse and to run this popular social dump,” the pilot continued. The SNPL therefore calls for a “revaluation of basic pay, nightly increases, and fixed schedules”, with changes made 24 or 48 hours prior to a flight ending.
The cabin crew is also on strike
Volotea management does not want to comment. It states that “everything is done to minimize the impact on the activities of the strike movement.”
For the time being, only 14 pilots (out of 100) have announced a strike. But the cabin crew (PNC, hostess, stewards) have given notice.
The movement “should be pursued on a massive scale,” says SNPNC union spokeswoman Alicie Bonour. At the Marseille and Strasbourg bases, 100% of employees announced they would go on strike themselves, she confirms.
Last Saturday, a similar movement on Ryanair severely disrupted traffic, causing delays of up to 10 hours and canceling flights between Bordeaux and Marseille, unions said. “The company sent five aircraft to Poland and Lithuania to replace the striking crew,” explains Damien Morgas of SNPNC. Like the pilots, their move was halted after open discussions with Ryan Air’s cabin crew management.
In the same vein, management, threatened with a strike, agreed to pay a total of 150 euros in salary to all employees with at least one year of seniority. A measure approved by the staff shorthead (52.4%) during the electronic vote.
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