What are the reasons for the strikes that have crippled air transport in Europe?

Strikes by employees of airports and airline companies across Europe cause major disruptions during the busy summer period.

In Spain, Italy and England, many employees in different fields from ground services to cabin crew and pilots went out of work.

With passenger numbers approaching pre-pandemic levels, such collective actions are causing chaos at airports across Europe.

So what are the reasons that push workers to strike in the middle of the tourist season?

Why are airport and airline workers on strike?

With the relaxation of pandemic restrictions, there were sharp jumps in the number of passengers and the aviation industry had difficulty meeting this demand.

Many airport and airline employees were laid off during the pandemic, so there is a huge staff shortage.

The pilots, as well as ground handling and cabin crew, who stated that they work overtime and do not receive adequate pay, have been taking a standoff in the last few months.

Airport workers still working overtime with Covid-19 contracts

Eoin Coates, Head of Air Transport of the European Transport Employees Federation, emphasizes that it all started with Covid-19.

Stating that employment at the airport is quite unstable, Coates underlines that the conditions of ground workers have deteriorated for many years.

Expressing that airline and airport employees are struggling due to low wages and self-employment, Coates stated that Covid-19 was the spark that ignited the fuse.

“In Belgium, Spain and Italy, where strikes are common, we see workers being placed on Covid contracts and their pay cuts,” Coates said.

The large number of layoffs also means increased travel and the burden of remaining workers.

Ryanair cabin crew, Lufthansa ground handling workers and EasyJet workers cited low wages as the reason for their strikes.

Ryanair’s problems started before the pandemic

Ryanair employees are calling for contract changes to be implemented and workers fired due to the strike to be replaced. Union spokesperson Lidia Arasanz stated that an agreement was signed to transfer the contracts registered in Ireland to Spanish law in 2019, but only some parts of it were implemented.

Arasanz also emphasized that 11 people who participated in the strike were dismissed for no other reason, and that around 100 people were subject to disciplinary proceedings.

Will the strikes continue?

Coates stated that after the strikes due to Covid contracts, companies agreed to negotiate, but nothing has been resolved yet.

Therefore, the strikes are expected to continue.

EasyJet pilots have already announced that they will go on strike for 9 days in August.

In Portugal, employees of ANA company will go on strike on August 19-21.

Ryanair employees also announced that they will take regular strikes for the next 5 months.

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