Ryanair cabin crew in four countries to strike

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DUBLIN (July 4): Ryanair cabin crew are to hold coordinated strikes in four European countries, a union official said on Wednesday, in the latest escalation of industrial action at Europe's largest low-cost carrier.

Cabin crew in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Belgium are planning the strikes and will announce dates for the action on Thursday once authorities in Italy give their approval, Antonio Escobar, an official with Spanish union SITCPLA said, adding that other countries may join the action.

The cabin crew will join Irish Ryanair pilots who on Tuesday announced a strike for July 12 complaining that the airline, Europe's largest low-cost carrier, had failed to improve conditions sufficiently after recognising unions for the first time in December.

Ryanair, which flies in 37 countries and carried 130 million passengers last year, averted widespread strikes before Christmas by deciding to recognise trade unions for the first time in its 32-year history, but has since struggled to reach agreement on terms with a number of them.

Cabin crew from across Europe on Wednesday published a list of 34 demands, including "a fair living wage", improved sick pay and employment contracts based on local rather than Irish law.

The list of demands was drawn up by crew representing 80% of Ryanair's 86 bases, the International Transport Workers Federation, which organised the event, said in a statement.

Cabin crew complained at a press briefing that they were forced to physically report to work when sick to provide written details of their symptoms and struggled to claim sick pay as their terms and conditions often straddled the law of Ireland and their home country.

The cabin crew, who spoke on condition of anonymity saying they feared reprisals if they went public, said staff from a number of EU countries were forced to travel to Ireland to open bank accounts in order to receive pay.

Ryanair did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but has said in the past that its working conditions are competitive and are more generous than some rivals.

While it admits that many staff are hired via third-party companies, it says many staff prefer this to direct employment.