48 Belgian pilots sue Ryanair to get their wages back at pre-Corona level

After having twice staged a strike (in June and July), 48 Ryanair pilots based in Belgium, nearly half of the hundred employed by the carrier, are going to the labour courts in Brussels and Charleroi to reverse a previous pay cut and enforce an adjustment of wages to the cost of living.

At the outbreak of the corona pandemic, in 2020, the pilots had agreed to give up 20% of their wages, provided that they would be brought back to the previous level after the crisis. The company’s boss, Michael O’Leary, also lowered his salary. But that restoration has still not happened today, the pilots say, despite the fact that the Irish low-cost airline is now operating 15% more flights than before corona and the salary of CEO Michael O’Leary is again at pre-corona levels.

According to the Christian trade union CNE/ACV Puls which assists the pilots, Ryanair obtained the pay cut by threatening to lay off 66 pilots – ‘blackmail’, according to the union – and thus asked the airline to help them save the company during the biggest crisis in the aviation world since World War II.

The 48 pilots and the union want Ryanair to raise wages to pre-corona levels and also adjust them to the cost of living. Their two strikes in June and July failed to bring any change in Ryanair’s attitude.

The pilots, who had gone on strike for this reason at the start of the summer, are also demanding, in the same legal action, that the indexation of August 2019 be paid correctly and that Ryanair be ordered to pay correctly the salary for the period of the coronavirus. “During this period, the pilots were on temporary unemployment. Ryanair had to pay a top-up for each day of unemployment. Without respecting the rules of the aviation sector, Ryanair however paid this top-up once a month, instead of every day“, say Didier Lebbe and Hans Elsen from CNE/ACV Puls.

Negotiations are currently underway between Ryanair and the representatives of the Belgium-based cabin crew, but there is no longer any dialogue with the pilots. The airine was not immediately available to react to this information.

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