Pilots strike a deal with Ryanair

After over a year's bickering Ryanair management and pilots have reached agreement over wages and conditions on Belgian flights.  The agreement is good news for passengers and the Ryanair management that had to contend with several strikes over the past two years.

The new collective labour agreement is valid for four years.  Hans Elsen of the Christian union noted a large majority of pilots backed the accord: "These were difficult and lengthy negotiations.  80% of pilots are pleased with the result.  The company can't afford to lose any more pilots.  It was prepared to strike a deal because of the pilot shortage."

If problems are sorted for pilots, talks are still underway on a similar agreement for crews.  Here the situation is entirely different.  There is no shortage of stewards and stewardesses.  Often these posts are filled by low skilled workers from eastern or southern Europe.  It's a vulnerable group as a result.

Most cabin crew staff are not directly employed by Ryanair, but by a second company that gets them to work for the low cost carrier.

Hans Elsen: "Most cabin crew staff work for Crewlink.  It's a company that operates in an illegal fashion and in practice serves as a temping agency.  We will see how the talks go and decide what we can do if the talks don't make headway."

Ryanair has meanwhile pledged to accept and apply Belgian labour laws starting this year.  Until now Irish labour legislation was used.  This could be an important step in tacking industrial strife at Ryanair.