BERLIN, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- German Ryanair staff have joined colleagues across Europe in the biggest-ever pilot strike experienced at the Irish budget airline, the pilot trade union Cockpit (VC) confirmed on Friday.
Germany is the epicenter of the industrial action that saw 250 Ryanair flights being cancelled during the peak of the European holiday season. As a result, 42,000 passengers will experience serious disruptions to their travel plans.
The strike is scheduled to last for a 24-hour period from 03:01 am (CET) on Friday until 02:59 am (CET) on Saturday.
Across Europe, a total of 55,000 passengers are affected by the latest episode in a long-standing labor dispute at Ryanair. Pilots in Sweden, Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands announced that they would abstain from work on Friday as well.
Trade unions have only been recognized by the management at Ryanair since 2017. Ryanair's CEO Michael O'Leary has repeatedly resisted calls from staff for better pay and working conditions which he warns would endanger the ultra-low-cost business model of Europe's largest budget airline.
Cockpit president Martin Locher explained earlier that the strike decision was a response to the unwillingness of Ryanair to engage in constructive discussions with pilots. "Ryanair alone is to blame for the escalation of the situation which has now occurred."
The trade union representative argued that improving working conditions would inevitably also require higher personnel costs shouldered by the company for cockpit staff. Cockpit wants employer representatives to sign Ryanair's first ever collective wage agreement with staff and has already been negotiating on behalf of German pilots towards this end since January.
Collective wages are widespread and legally binding in Germany as part of the country's "social partnership" model. The arrangements form part of a post-war political settlement between employer- and employee representatives which granted workers significant rights with regards to their labor conditions and their role in the cooperative management of companies.