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Airline union strikes in Italy cause mass cancellations

written by Isabella Richards | June 9, 2022

Pilots, flight attendants and air traffic controllers have begun striking for better working conditions in Italy, causing major cancellations and delays across several airports.

On Wednesday, workers from Ryanair, Malta Air, easyJet, Volotea and Crewlink that are members of Uiltrasporti (Italian Union of Transport Workers) and FILT CGIL (Italian Federation of Transport Workers), joined a four-hour national strike from 10am to 2pm.

Around 360 flights were cancelled with over 4,000 passengers affected, a UILT union spokesperson said on Wednesday.

According to UILT, the workers have dealt with ongoing poor working conditions and the “resumption of tourist flows” will not stop their strikes, and if company executives reject their requests, the protests will continue.

“Shifts up to 14 hours without providing water and food to pilots and flight attendants, failure to comply with the minimum wages provided for by the national contract, the continuation of an agreement on wage cuts (contingency agreement) no longer current given the traffic volumes, arbitrary reductions in paychecks, non-payment of sick days, refusal to grant compulsory leave during the summer season are the reasons that led us to proclaim this day of protest,” the unions said in a joint statement on 6 June.

The two unions pioneering the strikes also claimed that low-cost carrier easyJet has made multiple unfair dismissals of staff, and Spanish airline Volotea and Ryanair have carried out anti-union conduct amid their calls.

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“We now expect – conclude FILT CGIL and Uiltrasporti – that the company will summon us to finally open a discussion table on open issues, otherwise we will be forced to continue our action with other strikes and demonstrations.”

The strikes come as airlines and airports have already struggled to cope with the rebound of travel and ongoing staffing shortages.

On Wednesday, easyJet cancelled 135 flights in total, according to FlightAware, and around 20 of these were Gatwick routes to Bologna, Milan, Naples, Rome and Venice.

Ryanair scrapped 14 flights between London and Milan and canned a total of 68 scheduled for Wednesday.

At the same time, air traffic controllers at multiple airports in Italy also began striking for 24 hours to fight for better working conditions, and are set to return to work on Thursday, 9 June.

Ryanair denied that its crew joined the strikes in Italy but said its high number of cancelled flights was because of the air traffic controller action.

“These ATC (air traffic control) strikes are completely beyond our control, and we sincerely apologise for any inconvenience they will inevitably cause,” the Irish airline said in a statement.

EasyJet also blamed flight cancellations on the 24-hour strike. “Around 24 flights to and from the UK have been cancelled in advance to mitigate the impact on customers’ plans today and provide the option to rebook before travelling to the airport,” the Swiss carrier said in a statement.

Italy’s new ITA Airways said it was forced to re-route around 99 per cent of its passengers to avoid the strikes.

 

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