Business Irish

Saturday 16 December 2017

Pilot who has worked with Ryanair for over 10 years criticises negotiations in letter to Michael O’Leary

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary Photo: Colin Keegan
Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary Photo: Colin Keegan

Ellie Donnelly and John Mulligan

A Ryanair pilot, who has worked for the airline for more than 10 years, has written to the airline's chief executive, Michael O’Leary, outlining the concerns of pilots at the airline.

Captain Imelda Comer has also written to other Ryanair pilots stating that she was “prepared” to serve the pilots in order to offer to “develop a fair representation system” which will benefit their collective interests.

In a letter addressed to Mr O’Leary, which was hand delivered to the company office yesterday, Ms Comer, who revealed that she is leaving Ryanair in the near future, said that she was writing as a conduit to enable constructive engagement between Ryanair management and the pilot body.

Ms Comer told Mr O'Leary that the main aim of the correspondence was to provide the airline with a Ryanair pilot – as per Ryanair’s request – through which dialogue could take place.

Ms Comer claimed that the airline has either ignored or claimed as non-legitimate, previous correspondence from Ryanair pilots which has been endorsed by the European ERC in 60 bases.

The letter also insists that the interim EERC wishes to “proactively and constructively” engage with the company to help resolve what it describes as the “current difficulties.”

Read more: Ryanair faces €200m revenue hit from lost sales after latest cancellations bite

The Irish Independent has previously reported that an interim European ERC (EERC) has been independently established by a group of Ryanair pilots from at least 15 of the airline's bases.

Those bases represent the a significant majority of Ryanair's pilots.

The EERC has told management that is has a mandate to deal with management on behalf of a number of bases.

But chief executive Michael O'Leary has insisted he won't deal with the EERC. He has also said he will never deal with unions.

Among the pilots' requests in the letter sent to Mr O’Leary are that no legal action will be taken against any EERC member in the performance of their representative work, and that any disciplinary action, taken for any reason, will be handled by an independent third party.

Other requests include that pilot hours will not be less than their average monthly average prior to becoming a representative, and that EERC members will not be assigned unpaid leave, unless they request it.

Should Ryanair provide written assurances as to the security of pilot representatives then the pilots will be happy to disclose their identity, and engage in meaningful and constructive discussions, the letter from Ms Comer stated.

She has also claimed that offers made by the airline to pilots in the last 48 hours have not been negotiated with anyone, not do reflect the concerns or requirements set out by pilots.

"This letter from the so-called “EERC” is entirely disingenuous and is signed by a contractor pilot who has already resigned and is leaving Ryanair on 31st October as she confirmed she is moving to Asia. We will not be corresponding with, or replying to, the claims made by this so-called “EERC”/RPG/REPA or any other front set up by competitor pilot unions," Ryanair said in a statement.

"If Ryanair pilots wish to negotiate pay increases of up to €22,000 p.a. or anything else with the airline, they are free to do so at all times through the existing base ERC structures, which have been validated by the Supreme Court of Ireland and have operated successfully for over 25 years without any invented claims about pilot “security”.

"Ryanair wishes Ms Comer every success with her planned move to Asia."

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