Irish airline, which has warned it could cut up to 3,000 jobs in Europe, told staff in France that it is imposing pay cuts of 20% for flight attendants and 10% for agents of edge. Those who already have a statutory minimum wage will have their hours reduced.
Staff unions have accused the company of “dismissal blackmail” and of acting like cowboys.
“France is not the Wild West,” Damien Mourgues, PNC union representative, told AFP.
According to confidential documents seen by the French media, Ryanair wrote to the staff to suggest that the salary cuts take effect from July 1, 2020. The lower wages would be gradually increased over the five years so that the flight crews receive their current full salary by July 2025. Pilots lose an average of 12% over five years. Ryanair also offered to pay the lowest wages to new pilots and co-pilots.
The National Air Line Pilots Union said it was given a maximum of five days to respond to the ultimatum. Otherwise, he said the company had warned that it would have “no other choice” than to lay off 29% of its pilots and 27% of co-pilots in France.
The airline also wrote to cabin crew representatives to offer a 10% pay cut over the same five-year period and reduce their paid work time from 2,000 hours a year to 1,600 hours, which means a loss of € 308 (£ 274) per month for those earning € 1,539 per month.
The flight attendants’ union, SNPNC-FO, said the wage cuts would bring cabin crew below the minimum wage and asked for “explanations to justify the expected loss of income”, but said Ryanair didn’t hadn’t answered. SNPNC-FO said it also had five days to accept or deal with the dismissal of 27 of the 160 cabin crew based in France.
Ryanair has confirmed that it is expected to lose up to 3,000 jobs and close some bases in Europe until operations resume after the Covid-19 crisis. The company confirmed the proposed pay cuts and said it was in talks with French unions.
“The measures are reasonable and time-bound and aim to save as many jobs as possible at a time when all airlines in Europe are losing jobs to survive this unprecedented crisis,” Ryanair told RTL radio.
In a statement released last month, Ryanair blamed “expected significant drop” in passenger traffic this year and accused European governments of distorting competition with “some state aid doping” with € 30 billion in rescue plans for rival airlines.
Fiodor Rilov, lawyer for SNPNC-FO, said that Ryanair’s proposals were “unacceptable”.
“They cannot use the Covid crisis as an excuse to implement major wage cuts and to question all the guarantees that staff have managed to extract from difficult management. Ryanair has considerable reserves, “said Rilov.
He said the union would take legal action to force Ryanair to “respect French law”.
Stéphane Salmon, a representative of SNPNC-FO at Ryanair, told AFP that the company had sent him a letter informing him of the proposed reductions on May 15. He accused the airline of “using the Covid-19 crisis as an excuse to cut wages, which are already the lowest in the industry.”
Ryanair caused a storm last month when it revealed that passengers should ask to use the restroom when flights resume in July.
Last week, the airline was declared the worst for reimbursing passengers for flights canceled during the coronavirus pandemic.