Sunday 18 November 2018

'Ireland accounts for less than 7pc of our flights' - Ryanair issues response to pilot strike

  • Set to strike for 24 hours on Thursday, 12 July
  • Pilots voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action earlier this afternoon
  • Ryanair says it is 'disappointed' and described the action as 'unnecessary'
Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary. Photo: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg
Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary. Photo: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg

Anne Marie Walsh and Amy Molloy

RYANAIR passengers face the prospect of summer chaos after pilots served notice of a 24 hour strike Thursday week - and threatened there will be more to come.

The move comes after pilots voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action this afternoon.

The Irish Airline Pilots’ Association said that 99pc of over 100 directly-employed pilots who were balloted backed industrial action in the vote.

Ialpa is a division of the Fórsa union, which said the strike action will last for 24 hours beginning at 1am on Thursday July 12.

It said the pilots backed industrial action over management’s approach to transferring pilots between its European and African bases.

Fórsa said it has told Ryanair that it will notify the airline of more strikes days “in due course”.

In a statement released this evening, Ryanair said it is "disappointed" by the strike notice, describing it as "unnecessary".

"Ryanair will communicate next Tuesday by email and SMS text with all customers travelling from Ireland next Thursday if this unnecessary strike goes ahead.

"In the meantime, we had again this morning (prior to this strike notice) invited FORSA to meet to resolve these issues at our Airside offices at 10am next Wednesday morning and we hope FORSA will take up this 19th invitation to meet.

"Since Ireland accounts for less than 7pc of Ryanair flights, we expect that 93pc of our customers will be unaffected by any Irish pilot strike next Thursday."

Pilots want those with the longest service to get first call on entitlements including annual leave when their children are on holiday, promotions and transfers between bases.

Ialpa claims that management has not accepted the directly-employed pilots’ demand to set up a Master Seniority List to determine how these selections are made.

It says this is the norm at other airlines.

Fórsa said a request for talks on the issue had been met with a threat to move Dublin-based aircraft and pilots to other airports and cut opportunities for promotion.

“Our member pilots directly employed by Ryanair complain that there is no transparent system for the determination of important matters including voluntary and involuntary base transfer, command upgrade, allocation of annual leave and promotion,” it said.

“When a pilot receives notice of a mandatory base change, or is denied a request for a change of base, such management decisions can have a devastating effect on family life.”

It said it is seeking a seniority agreement to provide pilots with a fair and transparent mechanism to organise transfers.

However, it said it is “willing to engage” on the issues identified in the notice of strike action.

Demands by unions representing Ryanair staff are ramping up after the airline made a shock announcement last December to recognise unions to stave off a strike.

The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) expressed their concern at news of next week's strike.

Pat Dawson, CEO of the ITAA, said, "We’re deeply disappointed to hear of the decision by pilots to strike next week as this will effect the peak of summer travel, causing major distress for holidaymakers.

"Any cancellations at this point will result in major consequences for travellers with booked accommodation and connecting travel plans completely disrupted, leading to additional costs to customers.” 

He added, “All of our member travel agents will work to minimise the inconvenience to customers affected by this strike by keeping them up to date with cancellations as well as assisting them with rebooking flights and changing travel plans. We are advising all those planning to travel with Ryanair to contact their travel agent for further advice and to check CAR’s website www.aviationreg.ie for updates on entitlements.”

Ryanair cabin crew from across Europe and North Africa are also threatening a summer of industrial unrest in pursuit of “fair” pay and conditions.

Cabin Crew United, who are members of unions affiliated to the International Transport Workers Federation began to gather in Dublin today for a two day summit.

They plan to draw up a list of demands for better working conditions.

The budget airline has still not finalised an agreement on union recognition with Fórsa, IALPA’s parent union.

In a statement, Cabin Crew United said it is clear that Ryanair has a long way to go before it wins a reputation as a good employer.

It said that the company had signed a recognition deal with Unite covering UK based cabin crew but it has yet to provide concrete improvement in pay and conditions,.

“Conditions at Ryanair have been heavily criticised over the last few years, with the range of issues highlighted including poverty pay, draconian disciplinary procedures, unachievable sales targets sand staff having to pay for items that most decent employers provide,” it said.

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