The island dream could be so beautiful. The long-awaited summer holidays are approaching, the Mallorca holiday is booked. But even getting there by plane could become a problem: the cabin crew of three low-cost airlines are involved in industrial action – in the middle of the holiday season. The cleaners at Mallorca’s airport also want to stop work. Is there now a risk of summer chaos at the holiday airport in Palma?
The first day of strikes by Ryanair flight attendants stationed in Spain began this Friday. Five more days of industrial action will follow this Saturday and Sunday, as well as on June 30th, July 1st and 2nd. However, the effects of the strike that started on Friday were initially relatively small. Only a few flights between Belgium and Mallorca and other Spanish airports have been cancelled. Further cancellations were not excluded.
The effects are probably also limited by the fact that the Spanish government had ordered a minimum supply. According to this, 50 to 80 percent of Ryanair flights must be guaranteed. However, it was still uncertain whether this regulation could also be consistently observed. Travelers should therefore find out whether their flight is actually taking place.
Not only in Spain, but also in other European countries, many Ryanair employees are angry. They accuse airline boss Michael Kevin O’Leary of not complying with labor regulations and statutory minimum wages. That’s why the flight attendants in Portugal, France, Italy and Belgium are on the barricades these days, where there are also walkouts. However, flights with staff stationed in Germany are currently not affected.
At EasyJet and the Ryanair subsidiary Lauda Europe, there are also strikes for higher wages and better working conditions in Mallorca and the other Spanish routes in July. At EasyJet, all weekends and preceding Fridays are affected in July, just not the second. At Lauda Europe there is a strike every weekend in July.
Incidentally, from July onwards, the cleaning staff at Mallorca’s airport will also be putting brooms and cleaning rags to rest. We know from earlier cleaning failures what that can mean: the airport in Palma, which now handles more than 100,000 holidaymakers every day in summer, could turn into a single garbage dump. The toilets are then usually no longer cleaned.
But it could get even worse: the Spanish air traffic controllers are also threatening work stoppages. Spain’s air traffic controllers complain about overload and staff shortages. Air traffic is back in full swing, in this record summer there are more planes in the air than before the pandemic, but the workforce has not increased, but decreased.
The wave of strikes among low-cost airlines has provoked mixed reactions among travelers to Spain. “If you fly cheap, you also have underpaid staff – and that has to change,” writes a holidaymaker on Mallorca on the social network Facebook. Others are annoyed that the walkout falls during the holiday season. “Good wages are nice, but who are the ones who suffer: the vacationers,” says a fan of the island.
The unions meanwhile ask the passengers for understanding and speak of blatant abuses at Ryanair, Easyjet and Lauda Europe. “Ryanair’s cabin crew are third-class workers,” workers’ representative USO said. “Our rights are not respected.” Ryanair is the only international airline in Spain without a collective agreement.
USO describes how low the wages are, using Easyjet as an example. “At the moment, Easyjet employees in Spain receive a basic wage of 950 euros.” That is 850 euros less than flight attendants in Germany or France. In addition, however, there are variable wage supplements that depend on the number of flight hours.
Travelers whose flight is canceled are in any case entitled to a full refund of the price or to replacement transport, explains the German consumer advice center on its website. The extent to which damages or compensation payments can be demanded depends on the applicable national regulations.
The airline will then not be liable for any damage if they can prove that the cancellation was caused by “extraordinary circumstances”, which could include strikes. However, lawyers point out that it is legally controversial whether “extraordinary circumstances” can be cited in the event of a strike by one’s own staff, since an employer certainly has an influence on collective bargaining.