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Ryanair cabin crew in Portugal threaten strike

A union representing Ryanair cabin crew in Portugal threatened Friday to go on strike in March and April if talks over pay and work conditions with the Ireland-based budget airline fail to make progress.

The company’s roughly 400 cabin crew in Portugal will walk off the job for up to three days during the last two weeks of March, and another three days during the first two weeks of April, if Ryanair does not drop its “posture of bullying”, the head of cabin crew union SNPVAC, Fernando Gandra, told AFP.

The “vast majority” of cabin crew contracts do not stipulate a basic salary and staff are threatened with sanctions by the company if they do not meet ambitious daily targets for in-flight sales of food, duty free items and other goods or if they take sick leave, he added.

“The main job of cabin crew is to guarantee the safety of passengers and in-flight sales are an extra that should never be a reason to threaten employees with disciplinary proceedings,” said Gandra.

“This is creating a terrifying atmosphere. People are afraid to get sick, they are afraid of everything, and it makes it impossible to be productive in a company like this.”

Ryanair suffered a turbulent end to 2017, forced to cancel 20,000 flights through to March 2018, mainly because of botched holiday scheduling for pilots.

The fiasco triggered pilots’ demands for better working conditions and representation, with some departing for other carriers.

The discontent also saw Ryanair hit by the first-ever strike action by pilots in its 32-year history, with German staff staging a short stoppage ahead of Christmas resulting in delays but no cancellations. In December, Ryanair made moves to formally recognise unions.