German Ryanair pilots call for first major strike in carrier's history

Ryanair’s Irish-based pilots have announced they will strike just days before Christmas

Ryanair said it would "face down" the strike, though it admitted some "disruption may occur".

Together with their German counterpart, Irish, Italian and Portuguese pilots unions have all joined in calls for strikes against Ryanair, raising the possibility of Europe-wide industrial action for the first time in the company's history.

Ryanair responded to reports saying, "Ryanair has received no notification of any industrial action by its German pilots so we suspect this is more PR activity by the Lufthansa pilots group VC".

The German trade union promised to avoid striking over Christmas, from 23-26 December.

Update 9.15am: A Ryanair pilot strike in Italy could spark similar action here.

"If any such action takes place, Ryanair will deal with it head on, but we will not deal with or recognise the Lufthansa pilots union VC, regardless of what action - if any - takes place", the statement added. The airline has so far refused to recognise the EERC or IALPA, and insists that any discussion of pay and working conditions be conducted through management-controlled "employee representative councils".

Although the number of employees involved in the strike is fewer than the total number of Irish-based Ryanair pilots, the action will have impact because planes can not legally or safely fly without a captain.

Staff employed through agencies, individual companies ar as contractor pilots were not covered in the ballot by the Irish Air Line Pilots Association - which is affiliated to IMPACT.

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Of the 84 ballots issued in Dublin, 79 voted in favour of industrial action, with three against and one not returned.

However, the union said that the 117 represent nearly 90% of pilots directly employed by Ryanair, and the majority are captains, a rank needed on every flight.

"This dispute is about securing a safe space for negotiations, with independent representation that pilots can have confidence in".

This walkout is expected to affect flights to and from Dublin, Shannon, and Cork.

Pilot support in Dublin, the discount carrier's second-biggest base after London Stanstead, advances an organizing drive that has already led Italian pilots to declare they plan to call a strike on December 15 for four hours. The company has since offered concessions but has said it will reverse course if pilots in Dublin strike.

Ryanair claims that the number of pilots taking action is less than a third of those that they employ in Ireland.

Ashley Connolly, an official at Irish trade union IMPACT, said: "This dispute is exclusively about winning independent representation for pilots in the company".

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