Friday 22 March 2019

Ryanair pilots call off pre-Christmas strike as airline recognises union

Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary, Photo: Mark Condren
Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary, Photo: Mark Condren

Gavin McLoughlin and Breda Heffernan

RYANAIR pilots last night dramatically called off their planned pre-Christmas strike after airline management agreed to recognise trade union Impact as their representatives.

Following a tense standoff over the weekend, the union said pilots had suspended their one-day strike on Wednesday and will now meet management tomorrow evening.

In a statement, Impact paid tribute to the “principled determination of Ryanair pilots”, which it said had “made this breakthrough possible”.

It added that it hoped the suspension of the strike would “remove any uncertainty for passengers intending to travel on Wednesday”.

The airline had been due to publish contingency plans today in order to “minimise disruption” for passengers in case the strike went ahead.

Last week, Ryanair said it would recognise trade unions as pilot representatives for the first time in a dramatic reversal of its policy on industrial relations.

However, it maintained that it would ask unions to establish “committees of Ryanair pilots to deal with Ryanair issues, as Ryanair will not engage with pilots who fly for competitor airlines in Ireland or elsewhere”.

That led pilot unions in Italy and Portugal to call off planned strikes, but Irish pilot union Ialpa said it wanted to meet the airline before abandoning its plan for industrial action.

Niall Shanahan, a spokesman for Impact, the parent union of Ialpa, said yesterday that “the devil is in the detail”.

Positive

In a major victory for the pilots, Ryanair management agreed to recognise Impact as the representative of its Irish-based pilots.

Ryanair’s chief operations officer Peter Bellew last night took to Twitter to confirm strikes by pilots in Dublin and Portugal were now cancelled.

“Dublin Ryanair pilot strike cancelled by Impact Union for Wednesday. Talks start Tuesday evening. Let’s get folks back home quietly for Xmas. Good to talk,” he wrote.

The union last night said it looked forward to establishing a “positive relationship” with Ryanair management.

It said it had agreed to meet management on Tuesday evening, but was available to meet them sooner if requested.

The union asked the airline to release its Ryanair pilot representatives to prepare for and attend the meeting.

It added that it would not make any further comment until after the meeting.

Speaking on Today FM yesterday before the announcement, Mr Shanahan said: “We indicated to Ryanair yesterday (Saturday) that we were happy to meet it on Wednesday as it originally suggested, but that we wouldn’t be in a position to consider suspending the intended industrial action until we’d met it. It suggested a meeting on Tuesday evening as opposed to Wednesday morning, and again we’re happy to do that, but we’re not in a position to consider the status of the industrial action until after we’ve met it.

“Because then we’re just in a much better position to make a decision on that and ensure the substance of the Ryanair offer.

“The earlier we meet it the better position we’re in to make a determination about the industrial action, and I appreciate the ongoing status creates huge uncertainty for people.”

Online Editors

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