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Ryanair cabin crew in Germany back labour deal

German cabin crew have approved a proposed labour agreement hashed out with Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair, the Verdi union said, ending months of deadlock and strike threats over better pay and conditions.

Ryanair cabin crew in Germany back labour deal
A Ryanair plane at an airport in West Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: DPA

The influential Verdi union said members voted “by a large majority” on Tuesday to back a deal struck with Ryanair management last week that will raise crews' basic salary by €600 a month, alongside other pay increases and guaranteed working hours.

The deal, which still needs to be finalized by the end of the month, also switches German staff from Irish to local labour contracts, addressing a key gripe among Ryanair staff across Europe.

Verdi board member Christine Behle hailed the outcome as “a great success” and praised Ryanair cabin crew for “fighting for their rights”.

But she condemned Ryanair's refusal to accept a so-called works council, a body within a company that represents workers and an important feature in Germany's corporate world.

The labour agreement does not apply to Ryanair pilots, who are being represented by German cockpit union VC.

The hard-fought deal comes after German cabin crew joined a pan European walkout in September they say forced Ryanair to cancel more than 190 flights. 

SEE ALSO: Almost 40 percent of Ryanair flights in Germany cancelled

A 24-hour strike by German cabin and cockpit crew earlier that month also forced the cancellation of 150 Ryanair flights.

Ryanair only began recognizing unions for the first time in its 30-year history last December, to avert mass strikes during the busy Christmas period.

It has since been hit with a wave of industrial action that has dented profits.

The budget carrier has so far managed to clinch labour agreements with staff in several countries including Britain, Portugal and Italy.

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STRIKES

Hundreds of thousands take to streets against Macron’s pension plan

Demonstrators in France took to the streets Saturday for a seventh day of protest against President Emmanuel Macron's pension reform plans, with police expecting up to a million people at rallies nationwide.

Hundreds of thousands take to streets against Macron's pension plan

Unions hope they can still force Macron to back down as parliament debates the draft law, with the National Assembly and the Senate moving towards a final vote as early as this month.

“This is the final stretch,” said Marylise Leon, deputy leader of the CFDT union. “The endgame is now,” she told the franceinfo broadcaster Saturday.

This week, Macron twice turned down urgent calls by unions to meet with him in a last-ditch attempt to get him to change his mind.

“When there are millions of people in the streets, when there are strikes and all we get from the other side is silence, people wonder: What more do we need to do to be heard?”, said Philippe Martinez, boss of the hard-left CGT
union.

“This country’s leaders need to stop being in denial of this social movement,” said CFDT head Laurent Berger on Saturday.

Police said they expect between 800,000 and one million people at 230 planned demonstrations across France, of which up to 100,000 were likely to march in Paris.

It was the second protest day called on a weekend, with unions hoping that demonstrators would show up in greater numbers if they did not have to take a day off work.

“I’m here to fight for my colleagues and for our young people,” said Claude Jeanvoine, 63, a retired train driver demonstrating in Strasbourg, eastern France. “People shouldn’t let the government get away with this, this is about the future of their children and grandchildren,” he told AFP.

READ ALSO: 5 minutes to understand … French pension reform 

At the last big strike and protest day on Tuesday, turnout was just under 1.3 million people, according to police, and more than three million according to unions.

Several sectors in the French economy have been targeted by union calls for indefinite strikes, including in rail and air transport, power stations, natural gas terminals and rubbish collection.

The French Senate, meanwhile, early Saturday resumed debate on the reform whose headline measure is a hike in the minimum retirement age to 64 from 62.

Senators have until Sunday evening to conclude their discussions, and a commission is then to elaborate a final version of the draft law which will be submitted to both houses of parliament for a final vote.

Should Macron’s government fail to assemble a majority ahead of the vote, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne could deploy a rarely-used constitutional tool, known as article 49/3, to push the legislation through without a vote.

An opinion poll published by broadcaster BFMTV Saturday found that 63 percent of French people approve the protests against the reform, and 54 percent were also in favour of the strikes and blockages in some sectors.

Some 78 percent, however, said they believed that Macron would end up getting the reform adopted.

READ ALSO: LATEST: How strikes will affect France this weekend

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