Tuesday 15 January 2019

Ryanair warns pilots on new deals with unions

Airline says productivity must continue as it hits out at talks

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Ryanair has warned pilots that any collective labour agreements with unions "must meet our proven business model of low fares, high aircraft utilisation and maintaining existing pilot productivity".

In a recent update circulated to its pilots around Europe, and seen by the Irish Independent, Ryanair's chief people officer, Eddie Wilson, outlined progress being made across the continent in relation to securing collective labour agreements.

"While some countries have moved quickly, signed recognition agreements and got on with the business of negotiating for pilots, other unions have been much slower to accept meeting invitations or to respond to our proposals," Mr Wilson told pilots in the memo.

He singled out Ireland as a sticking point, saying that "very little progress" has been made in talks with unions here since initial contact took place last December. The talks are being led by trade union Fórsa.

"After two meetings in December and January, we have made very little progress," Mr Wilson said.

"Fórsa have taken over one month to reply to our letter and seems unwilling to recognise Ryanair's low fares, high-productivity model or provide assurances that there will be no involvement of competitor airline pilots in our negotiations," he said.

Fórsa has previously criticised Ryanair's approach to talks.

In February, the union claimed that Ryanair was attempting to retain its existing employee representative committee (ERC) structure for interacting with pilots, in a move it insisted was "incompatible with trade union recognition".

Mr Wilson said that Ryanair wrote to Fórsa 10 days ago, "confirming that we will recognise them and negotiate a collective agreement but they must first accept Ryanair's high-productivity model and agree to negotiate for Ryanair pilots without the involvement of competitor airline pilots".

Also in February, Mr Wilson told Fórsa that the airline would continue to refuse to accept any letter from Fórsa which also bears the name of the Irish Airline Pilots' Association (IALPA), a union under the Fórsa auspices which also represents Aer Lingus pilots.

"Ryanair management is wrong to assume that recognising a union simply means drawing up its own 'agreements' and instructing the union to sign them," said a Fórsa spokesman at the time.

And while Mr Wilson said in his latest memo that Ryanair is "hopeful of an early conclusion" on recognising trade union Sepla in Spain, insiders said that the talks there have not progressed well.

Mr Wilson added that a recent survey responded to by "over 50pc" of Ryanair's pilots, "gave clear, honest and unabridged feedback on many issues that we will address with pilot committees and their union officials".

Irish Independent

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