Thursday 22 August 2019

Pilots aim for €100k 'safety net' fund to back collective bargaining push

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary
Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

As much as €3,000 a day is being raised for a fund that will be used to provide benevolent financial support to pilots, including those from Ryanair, who could find themselves in financial difficulty as a result of leading demands for collective bargaining rights at their airlines.

The fund was set up by the European Cockpit Association (ECA) just three weeks ago amid the fallout from Ryanair's pilot-rostering disaster, which resulted in the airline cancelling thousands of flights.

The ECA said that the recent cancellation crisis shows that there is "a new generation of pilots [ready] to act".

"They want to negotiate as a group, on equal terms with their management. They want to elect their pilot leaders. They want their representatives to stand up and speak on their behalf, without fear of punishment," according to the ECA on the crowdfunding platform through which it is raising money for the benevolent fund.

The ECA added that the fund has been established "on behalf of the entire pilot community". It said its "sole purpose" is to provide a financial "safety net" to pilot leaders who have "distinguished themselves in the struggle for collective representation", in the event they lose their jobs or suffer a loss of income.

The ECA set a short-term target of raising €100,000 for the fund. As of yesterday, it had raised more than €78,000, with individual donations in the previous 24 hours ranging from €20 to €1,000.

However, the €100,000 that's being raised is less than what a Ryanair captain would typically earn in a full year.

Ryanair has never prevented staff from joining unions, but does not recognise unions and is legally entitled not to do so.

It deals with pilots via almost 90 Employee Representative Committees (ERCs) that it established across Europe.

However, more than 3,000 of Ryanair's 4,200 pilots at more than 50 bases have now demanded that Ryanair engages with a newly-established European Employee Representative Committee (EERC) that was formed in the wake of the rostering crisis.

Ryanair has so far refused to do so. It has contended that the ERCs have been confirmed by the Supreme Court as a valid means of pursuing negotiations between employee and employer and that the airline will only engage with pilots via the ERCs.

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