One of Italy's biggest unions - Uiltrasporti - has invited Ryanair pilots and cabin crew based in the country to a meeting in Rome on Wednesday in an effort to organise the staff under its umbrella, the Irish Independent can reveal.
The move is a serious escalation of the simmering discontent amongst Ryanair's pilots as the airline continues efforts to restore a normal flight schedule amid a rostering fiasco that has led to hundreds of thousands of passengers being affected.
In correspondence seen by the Irish Independent, union representatives reference a recent European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling involving Ryanair.
Earlier this month, the ECJ ruled in a case related to six Belgium-based Ryanair workers, that a jurisdiction clause that sought to prevent them from bringing proceedings before courts which do have jurisdiction under EU legislation in the air passenger transport sector, was not enforceable against those employees.
It effectively means that Ryanair crew can now have disputes regarding employment contracts held in the country where they habitually carry out their work, such as a Ryanair base, rather than in Ireland, the country under which the contracts are drafted.
Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary has insisted the ruling does not alter the status quo of Ryanair's staff and employment contracts, however.
A notice from Uiltrasporti says that it is now making an official collective bargaining request to staff to represent Ryanair cockpit and cabin crew in Italy.
"Uiltrasporti stands openly in favour of the Ryanair workers, pointing out that the mistakes made by a short-sighted management can no longer be tolerated and recalls the recent decision of the European Court of Justice in favor of fair competition and social dialogue," the union notice declares.
Ryanair has about a dozen bases in Italy, including some of the airline's busiest bases.
Uiltrasporti has added in a notice that its meeting will be held at 4pm on Wednesday at the union headquarters in Rome.
"Meeting open to all Ryanair pilots and flight attendants," the notice says.
"There will be all the representative structures of Uiltrasporti and lawyers of the organisation [present]," it adds.
Attempts to unionise at Ryanair are certain to be strongly resisted by airline management.
The Irish Independent revealed on Sunday evening that about 350 Ryanair pilots at Dublin have been urged to join the Irish Airline Pilots' Association as part of a grassroots campaign understood to be organised by the pilots themselves.
'Next slide," spat Michael O'Leary at the Ryanair staff member unfortunate enough to have been tasked with operating his Powerpoint presentation at the airline's AGM last Thursday. O'Leary was venomously rattling through a list of the airline's achievements over the past year, firing out facts and figures like bullets.