Belgian unions warn of more strikes ahead for Ryanair

FILE PHOTO: Passengers wait to board a Ryanair flight at Gatwick Airport in London, Britain. Aug 23, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European unions will organise several days of strikes before the end of the year if low-cost carrier Ryanair RYA.I does not change its position, Belgian unions CNE and LBC-NVK said.

A staff walkout at Ryanair on Sept. 28 grounded planes in Germany, Belgium, Portugal, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy, disrupting the plans of more than 40,000 passengers.

The Belgian unions, which represent cabin crew, said in a statement late on Thursday that the European unions that had submitted strike notices then had “decided to put Ryanair on probation, as they do with their own workers”.

“That means that if Ryanair does not radically change position and attitude, we will organise several strike days before the end of the year,” the Belgian unions said.

The dispute chiefly centres on Ryanair’s practice of employing a large proportion of its staff under Irish law, which unions say inconveniences staff and impedes them from accessing local social security benefits.

The Belgian unions added that they had received assurances from the European Commission that it would pressure EU countries to enforce legislation on their territory.

The Commission has said Ryanair should respect EU rules by giving workers contracts in the country they live rather than in Ireland where its planes are registered.

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Sunil Nair