Ryanair Cabin crew across Europe are preparing to strike over the summer holidays, claiming that the Dublin-based airline forces employees to work without access to water.
Ryanair does not supply bottled water for cabin crew and pilots, unlike the great majority of European carriers. The policy supports Ryanair’s well-known cost-cutting strategy, but it differs from that of other low-cost carriers.
Cabin crews are given bottled water by airlines such as EasyJet and Vueling because security standards implemented after 9/11 required aircrews to dump bottled drinks to pass through security checks.
After getting through security, there is rarely an opportunity to refill reusable bottles. The provision of bottled water and food by airlines acknowledges that aircrews do not have the same amenities as office workers, who typically have access to canteens or neighboring cafes and stores.
A Ryanair cabin crew member may not be able to buy in the airport and will instead spend most of their workweek, which can last up to 12 hours, onboard the aircraft.
If Ryanair cabin staff wish to drink a bottle of water that they didn’t bring on board, they must purchase it from the onboard shop. A 500ml bottle of San Bendetto water costs €3 on Ryanair.
Unions in Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, and Spain are angry over the slow pace of planned changes to the airline’s working conditions and have threatened a series of European-wide strikes this summer.
“The unions denounce the irregularities committed by Ryanair in the management of its personnel and the attacks on the rights of its workers such as the fact that the cabin crew continues to work without access to water on board the plane,” the Spanish USO union said in a statement on Friday.
Ryanair has turned down the French SN-PNC union’s major demand of giving food and water to the cabin staff. “Faced with Ryanair’s disdainful behavior, the strike becomes our only option,” the union said.
After agreeing to allow aircrews to unionize, Ryanair was struck by a wave of strikes in 2018 and 2019. By lowering the use of contract workers and stopping the controversial practice of letting cabin crew pay for their own training and uniforms, the airline said it was dedicated to improving wages and working conditions.