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German, Dutch Ryanair pilots to join European strikes on Friday

AFP  |  Frankfurt Am Main 

pilots in and the will join a wave of strikes against the across on Friday, escalating a row over pay and conditions at the height of the summer season.

The powerful Cockpit union said it had asked some 480 Germany-based pilots to walk off the job for 24 hours from 03:01 am (local time) on Friday.

"We are extremely sorry for the affected passengers. The responsibility lies with management," told a press conference at airport today.

But Ryanair hit back, slamming the "unnecessary" and urging the union to "continue meaningful negotiations".

In the Netherlands, the Dutch Pilots Association said Ryanair pilots based there would go also on strike Friday.

"This European pilot strike should be a wake up call for the Ryanair management," it said.

The strike call followed a move by Ryanair to block a walkout by Dutch pilots with a court near Amsterdam's Schiphol due to consider an injunction on Thursday.

The walkout by German and Dutch pilots piles pressure on the Irish budget after pilots in Ireland, and also vowed to strike on August 10, promising major disruptions for thousands of holidaymakers.

Ryanair said before the announcement of the Dutch strike it would have to axe around 400 out of 2,400 European flights scheduled for Friday, affecting some 55,000 passengers.

will be worst hit with 250 flight cancellations.

Europe's second biggest has been grappling with staff unrest since it recognised trade unions for the first time in December 2017, in a bid to ward off widespread strikes over the period.

But unions say little progress has been made on their demands for better wages and fairer contracts despite months of talks.

Germany's Cockpit union said Ryanair management had failed to respond to this week's deadline for an improved offer, leaving them with no choice but to strike. "There can be no improvements without increasing staff costs," Locher said, but added that this has been "categorically" rejected by Ryanair.

"At the same time, Ryanair has at no stage signalled where there might be leeway to find solutions." But Ryanair's chief officer accused the German union of calling "an unjustified and unnecessary strike", and urged Cockpit to return to the negotiating table to discuss a revised offer the airline proposed last week. Speaking at a press conference, Jacobs said German pilots enjoyed "excellent working conditions" with an average salary of around 150,000 euros ($173,000) a year, more than their peers at low-cost rival

He added that Ryanair had already committed to a 20-percent pay increase, and that 80 percent of its pilots in were now on permanent contracts. Passengers caught up in Friday's stoppages will be contacted by email or text message later for information about refunds and alternative routes, Jacobs said.

The German strike announcement had been widely expected and investors appeared sanguine about the upcoming disruptions, sending Ryanair shares climbing 1.2 percent in

Founded 33 years ago in Dublin, Ryanair boasts lower costs per passenger than its competitors.

But Ryanair pilots have long claimed that they earn less than their counterparts at budget airlines like

Another key complaint of workers based in countries other than is the fact that Ryanair employs them under Irish legislation. Staff say this creates huge insecurity for them, blocking their access to state benefits in their country.

Unions also want the airline to give contractors the same work conditions as staff employees.

Ryanair, which flies in 37 countries and carried 130 million passengers last year, has repeatedly said it remains open to further talks with pilot representatives. But its has also warned the airline may shift jobs and planes to more profitable areas if the turmoil continues.

The carrier was already hit by a round of strikes last month disrupting 600 flights in Belgium, Ireland, Italy, and Spain, affecting 100,000 travellers. After those stoppages Ryanair threatened to move part of its fleet to Poland, which could cost 300 jobs, including 100 pilot positions.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, August 09 2018. 00:05 IST