Flight: Ryanair strike in Belgium adds to growing labour strife in Europe, ET TravelWorld News, ET TravelWorld

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Belgian-based Ryanair cabin crews will strike on and around New Year, unions said, adding to growing labour strife in Europe that threatens a rocky holiday period for many passengers.Most of the 450 flight attendants based in Belgium for Ryanair, the low-cost Irish carrier, have been called to stop work on December 30, 31 and January 1 – over a New Year’s weekend that is expected to be very busy.

They also plan to strike on the following weekend, on January 7 and 8, the CNE and AVC Puls unions said.

The strike will mainly hit Ryanair’s Belgium hub at Charleroi airport, south of Brussels, and is likely to cause several flight cancellations.

It will affect the 15 planes Ryanair bases in Belgium, CNE permanent secretary Didier Lebbe told AFP, predicting that it would halve the number of flights the airline runs into and out of the country.

Ryanair planes based in other countries won’t be affected, he said. Ryanair is Europe’s biggest airline in terms of passengers transported.

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Ryanair, which operates an average of 3000 flights per day, said the memorandum of understanding with Shell covered the equivalent of over 70,000 flights from Dublin to Milan. It could also save 900,000 tonnes in CO2 emissions, Ryanair said, and follows similar agreements it has struck with Finnish biofuel producer Neste and Austrian oil and gas group OMV.

The announced strike adds to promised travel chaos in Britain and France, where rail workers stopped work on Friday and over this Christmas weekend to demand higher wages to offset high inflation.

British Border Force officers manning passport booths went on strike for the rest of the year, except December 27, including up to and including New Year’s Eve.

Ryanair employees in Belgium have already gone on strike several times this year to demand that Belgium labour laws be fully applied, grounding aircraft.

“We want Ryanair to respect Belgian law and stop its aggressive and awful policy towards its own staff,” Lebbe said, also urging the Belgian government to sue the Irish airline.

The unions notably accused Ryanair of illegally pressuring staff in Belgium to work from time to time in other bases across Europe, particularly in Dublin, where the airline suffers employee shortages.

They also allege Ryanair is not properly declaring salaries to Belgian social security authorities and was sometimes paying wages under the national legal minimum.

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