German union calls for strike Friday by Ryanair pilots

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BERLIN (AP) — A German union has called on Ryanair pilots to walk off the job Friday morning, accusing the airline of staging a "publicity stunt" when offering to hold negotiations on pay and working conditions.

In a statement Thursday, the Cockpit union called on pilots to strike from 5:01 a.m. to 8:59 a.m. local time (0401 to 0759 GMT) at German airports.

The strike call comes a day after Ryanair called off an opening round of talks at short notice on the grounds that it rejected two of the five union negotiators taking part, according to the union. Ryanair said it objected to the inclusion of a former Ryanair pilot who is in litigation with the company.

Cockpit official Ingolf Schumacher said that suggested "the company is not interested in a mutually constructive cooperation."

Following the strike call, Ryanair said it wrote to German pilots asking them to work as normal, and that it intends to continue talks. The airline said last week it was reversing its longstanding refusal to recognize pilots' unions as it worked to avert strikes in several European countries over the busy Christmas season.

The airline said in a statement that the planned walkout is "unjustified and unnecessary" and that it had written to the union agreeing to meet again in Frankfurt Jan. 5. It said it had written to German pilots asking them to work as normal Friday and that it planned to operate all scheduled flights.

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