Friday 17 August 2018

Ryanair has now opened can of worms as cabin crew seek deal

Stock photo: PA
Stock photo: PA
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Ryanair's confirmation that it will now recognise cabin crew unions is the latest development in a dramatic four days at the airline.

It had been anticipated that the airline would be forced to acknowledge that it would recognise cabin-crew unions after agreeing to meet pilot unions. Last week, international union groups had urged the airline to recognise unions representing all staff within the carrier.

An unprecedented first meeting between trade union Impact and Ryanair executives got under way yesterday evening at a hotel near Dublin Airport. A series of meetings will eventually see them thrash out a framework for pilot-union recognition.

"Ryanair is moving to recognise unions, starting this week with meetings with Irish, German and Portuguese pilot unions," the airline said in a statement.

"It will lead on in the new year to meetings with other EU pilot unions and cabin crew unions in due course as well," the company said.

A spokesman for the British Airline Pilots' Association said the union would meet Ryanair management in early January.

Ryanair has about 4,200 pilots, and almost 8,000 cabin crew, most of whom are supplied by third-party agencies to the airline, and who generate a large part of their pay from commission on in-flight sales.

Ryanair said that in its last financial year, flight attendants earned approximately 40pc of their average pay from sales commission. Crews get 10pc of everything they sell on board, according to one agency that supplies the airline with flight attendants.

But they're put under enormous pressure by the agencies that contract them out to Ryanair to hit targets.

Last month, a widely circulated document from an agency that supplies Ryanair with cabin crew, warned a flight attendant that they could face "disciplinary proceedings" by the agency and have their working hours unilaterally altered, unless they hit sales targets.

The flight attendant was told that between April and November this year, they had flown 251 flights, but that their "average spend performance" was 48pc below budget.

It provided a detailed list of the percentage of flights on which the flight attendant had sold no items such as gifts, scratchcards, cosmetics, snacks and a number of other items.

"This performance is not acceptable and it is clear that you are simply not doing your job on board," the letter stated.

The worker was told that on a high percentage of the flights they had flown, they generated less than €50 in revenue on each of those flights.

The agency warned: "I might also add your performance will be closely monitored over the next two months. If there is no significant and sustained improvement, then further action will be taken and you may be subject to disciplinary proceedings."

At the time the letters from agencies were published in newspapers last month, Ryanair said it expected under-performers to improve, "and they will be given time and training to do so".

Ryanair's decision last week to recognise pilot unions was inevitably opening the floodgates. Already, baggage handlers in Spain are set to enter talks with the carrier.

But striking deals with unions representing cabin crew could be much more difficult than sealing them with relatively well-paid pilots. Ryanair has opened a can of worms.

Irish Independent

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