Forty-eight Ryanair pilots based in Belgium, nearly half of the hundred employed by the carrier, cited the Irish low-cost airline before the Charleroi labor court, the Christian union CSC said on Tuesday, which will help in this process. They are asking for the restoration of their salaries, which have fallen by 20% since the coronavirus health crisis broke out. The Covid-19 context had imposed significant savings on a sector that had literally been grounded, Ryanair had justified when requesting this wage reduction. The boss of the company, Michael O’Leary, had also lowered his remuneration. The objective of the operation was to benefit from a better competitive position during the post-Covid recovery and to further increase the company’s market share.
“Except that this salary reduction was obtained by Ryanair under duress”, insists Didier Lebbe, permanent secretary of the CNE. The company had indeed threatened to lay off 66 pilots if wages were not reduced, he recalls, believing that it had, in this way, abused the Renault procedure by using it as a means of pressure. The pilots and the union are therefore contesting the legality of the agreement signed at the time and believe that the economic situation has changed considerably since then.
Indeed, the low-cost carrier operated 115% of the number of flights operated before the health crisis this year, develops Didier Lebbe. Michael O’Leary’s salary has also been restored.
“This is not the case for the pilots”deplores the permanent secretary of the CNE. “In reality, Ryanair is sitting on a mountain of cash”, abounds Hans Elsen, his counterpart of the Flemish Christian union ACV Puls. According to the union, Ryanair thus abused the Renault procedure and the threat of collective dismissal to lower wages.
“For this reason, because Ryanair has hidden the real cause of the wage reduction, the pilots are calling for the full restoration of wages, to pre-Covid-19 levels.” In his eyes, the cuts in wages have not served to maintain employment and the reduction was intended to eliminate a little more competition, by deteriorating working conditions.
The pilots, who had gone on strike for this reason at the start of the summer, are also demanding, in the same legal action, that the indexation of August 2019 be paid correctly and that Ryanair be ordered to pay correctly. the salary for the period of the coronavirus. “During this period, the pilots were on temporary unemployment. Ryanair had to pay a top-up for each day of unemployment. Without respecting the rules of the aviation sector, Ryanair however paid this top-up once a month, instead of every day. “denounce Didier Lebbe and Hans Elsen, his Flemish counterpart from ACV Puls.
And the two trade unionists recall the even more complicated situation of cabin crew, who are incorrectly declared to the ONSS and whose accidents at work are not always covered. In addition, stewards are sometimes sent to other countries suddenly without regard to their family life.
On all these plans, the CSC hopes to soon be able to collaborate in the public action that the public ministry will launch in September, according to announcements, dating back to last spring, from the Minister of Justice Vincent Van Quickenborne.
Note, finally, that after the various strikes that affected the company in Belgium at the beginning of the summer, negotiations are currently underway between Ryanair and the cabin crew representatives. On the other hand, there is no longer any dialogue with the drivers, according to Didier Lebbe.
Contacted, the company was not immediately available to react to this information.