Wednesday 19 December 2018

Unions are jostling for members at Ryanair as talks go on

Ryanair confirmed on Tuesday that not only would it recognise pilot unions, but also those for cabin crew. Photo: REUTERS
Ryanair confirmed on Tuesday that not only would it recognise pilot unions, but also those for cabin crew. Photo: REUTERS
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Both Impact and Siptu are now jostling to represent Ryanair cabin crew and ground-handling staff after the airline said it would recognise trade unions.

A dispute 20 years ago between Ryanair and trade union Siptu could raise the likelihood of the union emerging as the representative body.

The 1997 dispute saw Siptu issue notification of strike action by the airline's baggage handlers over wages and conditions.

The following March, Dublin Airport came to a standstill as firefighters, airport police, clerical staff, IT workers, catering staff and cabin crew working at the gateway stopped work in sympathy with Ryanair baggage handlers who had gone on strike.

But with Impact already representing unionised Ryanair pilots in talks that began on Tuesday, it would appear to be in a strong position to later recruit the hundreds of Ryanair cabin crew who are based in Ireland. Impact also represents about 1,500 cabin crew at Aer Lingus.

Whether or not Siptu becomes the driving force behind those workers could become clearer before Christmas.

Ryanair confirmed on Tuesday that not only would it recognise pilot unions, but also those for cabin crew.

The decision by Ryanair to recognise unions across Europe is already resulting in some unions trying to recruit the airline's cabin crew to their ranks.

A spokesman for Italian trade union Anpac, which represents about 300 of the 650 Ryanair pilots based in Italy, said the union was actively recruiting. Anpac is set to meet Ryanair management in Rome on January 9 regarding recognition for pilots.

Impact has given Ryanair until noon today to deliver a union recognition agreement, before talks can continue.

Its head of communications Bernard Harbor told the Irish Independent that the union remain hopeful it can continue to engage with Ryanair.

"The events of the last six days have been very positive," he said. "What they've been saying and doing is very significant. The language is very positive, and we want to accept that as being positive."

Ryanair probably has about 350 cabin crew based in Dublin. The airline relies on third-party agencies to supply it with flight attendants, of which there are about 8,000 in total at the carrier.

Irish Independent

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