Thursday 22 August 2019

Ryanair ready to restart talks with union in bid to avert pilot strike

Stock picture
Stock picture
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Ryanair has insisted it remains ready to re-engage in talks with trade union Fórsa in order to prevent a pilot strike next week.

Passengers are also likely to know by Monday which flights will be disrupted, as Ryanair's 180 unionised pilots based in Ireland stay grounded next Thursday and Friday.

It has a total of about 415 pilots based here.

The strike will coincide with a 48-hour stoppage by Ryanair's unionised pilots in the UK, putting pressure on the airline to accommodate passengers.

Ryanair's chief people officer, Eddie Wilson, said his negotiating team is ready to re-enter mediation under industrial relations veteran Kieran Mulvey, after talks broke down on Wednesday evening.

"Everything has to end in agreement at some stage," he told the Irish Independent. "This one is going to be particularly difficult, because they [Fórsa] have told the most experienced mediator in Ireland that they no longer require his services."

Fórsa has said it is prepared to re-engage in talks only if there is a substantive proposal put forward from Ryanair.

"It's not intractable," Mr Wilson insisted.

Fórsa also disputed claims by Ryanair that it is seeking pay increases of up to 101pc.

"We need a new pay structure across the company which would mean different things for different pilots," said a spokesman for the union.

Mr Wilson said Ryanair's position is that pilots have already received a 20pc pay rise and that the "world has moved on".

"Now we've got 500 surplus pilots and our hand in that is stronger, so we're not going to be showering money," he added.

"The sorts of percentages that are being kicked around in this economy at the moment are anywhere between 1.5pc and 2pc. You have to be in some sort of realistic ballpark."

Mr Wilson pointed out that last year Aer Lingus pilots agreed an 11pc pay rise over three years.

He insisted that the 20pc pay rise previously awarded to Ryanair pilots had to be taken into account in any negotiations. He added that some pilots had started receiving that pay increase only as recently as March.

"We've no difficulty restructuring pay," he said.

"But what we're not going to do is restructure the pay so it looks like a legacy airline-type structure."

Ryanair typically operates about 240 flights a day in and out of Dublin during the summer. Flights to destinations such as holiday resorts are likely to be prioritised during the strike.

"There isn't going to be travel chaos," said Mr Wilson.

Irish Independent

Also in Business