Ryanair hit with first ever pilots strike

Above, an empty Ryanair check-in section of the departures area is seen at Dublin airport in Dublin. The Irish budget carrier had been seeking to avert a series of threatened strikes across Europe over Christmas last week by giving up its long-held opposition to recognizing unions. (Reuters)
Updated 22 December 2017
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Ryanair hit with first ever pilots strike

BERLIN: Ryanair’s efforts to avert its first ever pilots strike collapsed on Friday as pilots in Germany held a four-hour walkout although airports said there had been little impact on flights.
The Irish budget carrier had sought to avert a series of threatened strikes across Europe over Christmas last week by giving up its long-held opposition to recognizing unions.
However, Germany’s Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) union said it would stage a brief walkout as it did not believe Ryanair was serious about recognizing unions or sincere in talks.
“This was a warning shot and we started small. However, there is potential for much more,” union spokesman Markus Wahl said, ruling out further strikes until after Dec 26.
The strike ran from 0401 GMT to 0759 GMT when only 16 flights were scheduled.
“All in all there are no significant effects,” a spokesman for Berlin airports said, noting that five of seven flights had departed, with one delayed.
Cologne/Bonn airport said two of three scheduled flights had taken off and the third was delayed. Frankfurt airport said four of six scheduled flights had taken off.
Ryanair was not available for immediate comment. Management had urged pilots to work to get passengers home for Christmas.
But the VC union said after a first meeting that it did not believe Ryanair genuinely wanted to recognize unions and said it wanted to send a message that their pilots were serious about industrial action.
VC said Ryanair had refused to accept two members of a delegation that the union nominated to hold talks with management. One of the pilots was a contractor and one a direct employee, but Ryanair has ended both of their contracts, VC said.
“This has shown us that nothing has changed with Ryanair’s management style or how it handles workers’ rights,” VC President Ilja Schulz told reporters on Thursday.
Ryanair pilots mobilized in September after the carrier announced the cancelation of around 20,000 flights, which it blamed on a rostering problem sparked by a change in Irish regulations.


US courts allies with free trade offers at G20, France resists

Updated 22 July 2018
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US courts allies with free trade offers at G20, France resists

BUENOS AIRES: The US sought to woo Europe and Japan with free trade deals on Saturday to gain leverage in an escalating tariff war with China but its overtures faced stiff resistance from France at a G20 finance ministers meeting dominated by trade tensions.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters at the gathering of the financial leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies in Buenos Aires that he was renewing President Donald Trump’s proposal that G7 allies drop trade barriers between them.
“If Europe believes in free trade, we’re ready to sign a free trade agreement,” Mnuchin said, adding that such a deal would require the elimination of tariffs, non-tariff barriers and subsidies. “It has to be all three issues.”
Trump has angered European allies by imposing import tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, causing the European Union to retaliate with similar amounts of tariffs on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Kentucky bourbon and other products.
Trump, who frequently criticizes Europe’s 10 percent car tariffs, is also studying adding a 25 percent levy on automotive imports, which would hit both Europe and Japan hard.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the European Union would not consider launching trade talks with the United States unless Trump first withdraws the steel and aluminum tariffs and stands down on a car tariff threat.
“We refuse to negotiate with a gun to our head,” Le Maire told reporters on the sidelines of the G20 meeting.
Trump has angered European allies by imposing import tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, causing the European Union to retaliate with similar amounts of tariffs on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Kentucky bourbon and other products.
Trump, who frequently criticizes Europe’s 10 percent car tariffs, is also studying adding a 25 percent levy on automotive imports, which would hit both Europe and Japan hard.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the European Union would not consider launching trade talks with the United States unless Trump first withdraws the steel and aluminum tariffs and stands down on a car tariff threat.
“We refuse to negotiate with a gun to our head,” Le Maire told reporters on the sidelines of the G20 meeting.
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde presented the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting in Buenos Aires with a report warning that existing trade restrictions would reduce global output by 0.5 percent.
In the briefing note prepared for G20 ministers, the IMF said global economic growth may peak at 3.9 percent in 2018 and 2019, while downside risks have increased due to the growing trade conflict.
Lagarde’s presentation came shortly after Mnuchin said there was no “macro” effect yet on the US economy.
Mnuchin said that, while there were some “micro” effects such as retaliation against US-produced soybeans, lobsters and bourbon, he did not believe that tariffs would keep the United States from achieving sustained 3 percent growth this year.
The US dollar fell the most in three weeks on Friday against a basket of six major currencies .DXY after Trump complained again about the greenback’s strength and about Federal Reserve interest rate rises, halting a rally that had driven the dollar to its highest in a year.
The last G20 finance meeting in Buenos Aires in late March ended with no firm agreement by ministers on trade policy except for a commitment to “further dialogue.”
Brazilian Finance Minister Eduardo Guardia said participants agreed the risks to the global economy had increased since their last meeting, citing rising trade tensions and higher interest rates by major central banks.
He said the final communique would reflect the need for members, particularly in emerging markets that have been roiled by currency weakness, to undertake reforms to protect themselves against volatility.
German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said he would use the meeting to advocate for a rules-based trading system, but that expectations were low.
“I don’t expect tangible progress to be made at this meeting,” Scholz told reporters on the plane to Buenos Aires.
The US tariffs will cost Germany up to 20 billion euros ($23.44 billion) in income this year, according to the head of German think-tank IMK.
Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said he hoped the debate at the G20 gathering would lead to an easing of retaliatory trade measures.
“Trade protectionism benefits no one involved,” he said. “I think restraint will eventually take hold.”