Unions hail mobilisation in unprecedented Ryanair strike

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Unions representing Ryanair cabin crews said Thursday their strike in four European countries had been successful, defying the no-frills airline which has threatened job cuts.

Cabin crews in Belgium, Spain and Portugal were on a two-day strike on Wednesday and Thursday to ask they be employed under the national legislation of the country they work in, rather than that of Ireland as is currently the case.

In Italy, they only stopped work on Wednesday but said the impact had been bigger than expected.

The company had tried to limit the effect of the strike by announcing last week it was cancelling 600 flights and transferring affected passengers on other flights or reimbursing them.

But still they were forced to cancel more flights on Wednesday and Thursday.

Luciana Passo, head of the SNPVAC cabin crew union in Portugal where at least 17 flights were cancelled on Thursday, said there was "very strong participation in this strike."

"Just in Lisbon, participation on Wednesday was close to 80 percent. Today, we are predicting similar participation, and maybe even bigger," she told AFP.

In Italy, the Uiltrasporti union praised an "extraordinary result," urging Ryanair to "talk to avoid new strikes."

"The very strong participation of cabin crews based in Italy has shown the influence of our union among workers," it said in a statement.

In Spain, where authorities had asked Ryanair to ensure a minimum service, things went smoothly on Wednesday even if a dozen of flights to Italy were cancelled "due to the strong following of the strike" there, the transport ministry said.

Meanwhile in Belgium, where Ryanair employs around 700 people, 10 of 11 planned flights from Brussels airport were cancelled on Thursday, airport spokeswoman Nathalie Pierard said.

At Charleroi airport, 60 percent of flights were not taking off.

The second day of work stoppage comes a day after Ryanair threatened to cut more than 300 jobs and slash its Dublin fleet from 30 to around 24 aircraft for this winter, following recent pilots' strikes there.

Ryanair, which flies in 37 countries and carried 130 million passengers last year, averted widespread strikes before Christmas by deciding to recognise trade unions for the first time in its 32-year history.

But it has since struggled to reach agreements on terms with several of them.

© 2018 AFP

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