The batch of cabin crew strikes suffered by Ryanair this summer is straining the company’s labor relations. After repeated accusations that the Irish airline uses scabs to replace the workers who support the stoppages, a much more serious complaint arrives. And it is that, according to USO, one of the two unions together with Sitcpla calling the strike, the company stowed away with a fictitious passenger boarding card to a British crew member, without a work permit for intra-community flights, to be part of of the crew and will carry out his professional duties on board on a return flight between Malaga and the Danish city of Billund on Monday.
According to the documentation held by the USO union, and which has been provided to EL PAÍS, the crew member, a British worker from the Manchester-based company, skipped, with the help of the company, all the ordinary procedures to get on the plane and work as an assistant in substitution of an employee on strike. The crew member, who had traveled the previous day from his base in Manchester to Malaga, was rejected at the crew security checkpoint by airport security personnel as his name did not appear on the authorized list. He could not be, among other issues, because in addition to not being assigned to that flight in the middle of a strike day, he did not have a work permit to operate a route between two EU cities, being British. He himself could have made, for example, the London-Málaga route and sleep in Malaga (taking into account that he would operate it based in the United Kingdom, not in Spain), but never intra-community routes, according to the union.
To save the rejection in this control, the company provided the crew member with a “fictitious” boarding pass, under the figure known in the slang as “duty” which, according to Ryanair’s internal procedures, is intended for crew members who travel to another destination for work reasons, such as, for example, a training course, and always go as passengers, never acting as crew members. This card, free of charge, must include the real reason for the trip (internal meeting, refresher course, etc.) and the charge that authorizes the transfer, according to Ryanair’s internal manual. But none of these data appeared on the British card.
Fictitious boarding pass
And it is that, as USO argues, the boarding pass was just a trick to “sneak” the British crew member on the plane skipping the controls. The strongest evidence of this practice is his shipping history. Make the check in and he is assigned seat 0. He appears on boarding with number 198 of 186 (180 passengers + 6 crew members), that is, the company puts him off the list, aware that he will not fly as a passenger. And the most curious thing is the schedule. He does the check in at 3:06 p.m. on August 8, but at 3:57 p.m. there is a check out, that is, it disappears from the passenger list. Since the doors close at 3:40 p.m. and the departure of the flight is at 4:10 p.m., that check out It means that Ryanair has taken him off the plane before takeoff and, therefore, he does not appear on the passenger list. Nor is his presence recorded in the signature room that the entire crew must carry out before boarding the plane, nor does he participate in the air safety instructions with the passengers. But when the flight is about to start, the British crew member appears on the plane in the uniform of a flight attendant to the surprise of his colleagues (two Spaniards and an Irishman) and carries out his work normally during the more than three hours that the journey lasts. from the Andalusian city to the Danish one. He also makes the return flight working and rests in Malaga upon his arrival, always according to the USO version and the documentation provided.
The only official list where the scab crew member appears is in the cargo manifest that all companies must deliver to the aviation security authorities before each flight. It also appears in the list of active crew members for that day and for that flight in the apps internal Ryanair document of the mobile device carried by each crew member on board, although in this case it is not an official document. In other words, if the plane had had an accident, the illegal worker would not be on the passenger lists. This newspaper has had access to the identities of all the crew members of the flight from Malaga to the Danish city, including that of the British auxiliary, but has not mentioned them in the news for reasons of confidentiality and to avoid labor reprisals.
Ryanair, at the request of EL PAÍS, has indicated about the case: “The information [la aportada por el sindicato] It’s incorrect. The UK crew does not require a specific permit to operate flights within Europe and all the crew that operated the flight from Malaga to Billund on August 8 had the required certification to do so.
On the contrary, the USO union believes that Ryanair has operated this week, the first of the new round of strikes, several flights from Malaga with crews irregularly brought from Manchester and has used this method of false boarding cards to introduce them on the plane, although he is collecting the documentation to prove it.
USO has denounced on several occasions before the Labor Inspectorate the use of crew members from foreign bases as strikebreakers, coming from Morocco, Portugal, Ireland and the United Kingdom, but until now it had no documentary evidence of how the company “hid” the access of these workers to aircraft. In the case of Moroccan or British crew members, the case is more serious because, in addition to strike-stripping, they work without permission as they are from outside the EU. The union understands that the use of these fictitious boarding passes is the modus operandi of the Irish airline to camouflage the worker and prevent him from going through crew control.
Ryanair cabin crew are called from Monday, August 8 to a new strike, the third round of strikes so far this summer, and which will last until January 7, 2023 due to the company’s refusal to negotiate a new collective agreement. The USO and Sitcpla unions have called the 1,600 workers belonging to the Ryanair, Crewlink and Workforce companies to 24-hour strikes from Monday to Thursday, which during the first two weeks will affect 1.04 million passengers, with an average of 130,600 commuters every day. This new call is added to the stoppages at the end of June and for much of July, and which have caused cancellations and delays at the Spanish airports where Ryanair operates, especially in Barcelona-El Prat and Palma de Mallorca.
For its part, Ryanair has repeatedly pointed out that the new strike call will have a “minimal, if any” impact on the 3,000 flights it operates daily and that less than 1% have been affected by the strikes. It has also pointed out that USO and Sitcpla do not represent the majority of the workers, whose representative is the CC OO union, with which the airline signed an agreement to improve working conditions.
No more flights for 10 euros
The CEO of Irish airline Ryanair, Michael O’Leary, said Thursday that rising fuel prices will bring about the end of the era of “very cheap” tickets and “promotional fares.” “We will not see them again for several years,” warned the manager to the BBC 4 radio network, referring to the prices of between 1 and 10 euros per trip that the company has popularized during the last two decades.
According to O’Leary, Ryanair’s average airfare will increase by around €10 over the next five years, from €40 last year to €50 in 2027. “There is no doubt that we will not see our really cheap promotional offers, tickets at 1 euro, 99 cents or 9.99 euros”, stressed the head of Europe’s leading airline in the low-cost sector.
Although he attributed this change to the rise in the price of energy, which also affects, he said, the purchasing power of citizens, he was confident that the number of passengers will remain stable. In this context, O’Leary believed that consumers “will flock” to low-cost airlines such as Ryanair or EasyJet itself.
“I think people will continue to fly frequently. But I think they will be much more price-conscious and consequently millions of users will switch (to low-cost airlines),” O’Leary said.
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