Ryanair has reached an agreement with its German pilots' union after a tumultuous few months characterized by industrial action across Europe as unions seek to apply national labor laws to employee contracts.

The Irish LCC announced Dec. 4 that it had signed a framework agreement with Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) covering pay and benefits. The four-year deal includes pay, pension and pilot allowances, as well as other benefits involving seniority, annual leave and base transfer systems.

Ryanair said the agreement will deliver basic pay increases, a five on/four off roster and will apply German labor law to all its Germany-based pilots. Detailed terms and conditions will be concluded by February 28.

The agreement follows a deal struck in November with the airline's German cabin crew union, Verdi, in which Ryanair also agreed to apply German labor law along with pay increases and other benefits over a two-year period.

VC said their agreement includes a timeline for a social plan and a works council to be established by the end of March. The union has agreed to not initiate any strike action during this time.

The two sides are working toward signing four collective labor agreements, based on German law, by March 2019.

“By agreeing to these cornerstones, a re-entry into constructive negotiations has been enabled after their failure last summer," VC president Martin Locher said.

A recent change in German legislation grants flight crews the right to form a works council based on labor law, in the event that there is no collective labor agreement in place. VC said this change "has closed the loophole that some airlines have been using in the past", and it is "hopeful that other airlines, such as Germania and Aerologic, will now come to the negotiating table to establish a social partnership with VC."

Under the framework agreement, pilot base pay will be restructured and variable pay will be reduced. VC said this will result in "a significant increase of base pay", with co-pilots set to receive a 100% increase and captains 33% more.

Ryanair has been forced to cancel hundreds of flights across Europe in recent months because of industrial action by staff who wanted to work under the labor laws of their home countries rather than under Irish law.

The carrier did not recognize unions until December 2017. Its decision to change its employee representation policy followed the cancellation of hundreds of flights last year because of a pilot rostering error which left the carrier with a shortage of standby crew.

Kerry Reals, kerry@realsreporting.com