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Friday 20 September 2019

Ryanair passengers face threat of 48-hour strike next week

(stock photo)
(stock photo)

Anne-Marie Walsh

Ryanair passengers face the threat of a 48-hour strike next week after talks to end a pay row with pilots broke down.

Sources said discussions to avert industrial action by the Irish-based pilots ended yesterday evening with no further negotiations planned.

It is understood that demands for wage hikes of more than 50pc backdated to February last year were made at the talks.

The airline already faces turbulence following the announcement of 10 days of industrial action in Spain.

The directly employed pilots will strike for 48 hours on August 22 and 23, coinciding with stoppages by UK-based pilots.

Fórsa served strike notice on the company yesterday evening, and said it will notify the company of further strike days in due course.

It said the airline negotiators failed to put forward a counter proposal on a range of terms and conditions that would avert the strikes.

The move comes after 94pc of members of the Irish Airline Pilots' Association (IALPA) voted to back industrial action in the long-running dispute over pay and working conditions.

Denying management claims that the company had not received specific proposals, the union said Ryanair had received detailed proposals almost four months ago. It said the airline made no significant response, even in the face of a costly and potentially disruptive stoppage.

Fórsa national secretary Angela Kirk said Ryanair pilots told her they had been forced into industrial action by the company's failure to offer any significant response to their proposals over a four-month period.

She said she regretted any disruption that might flow from management's unwillingness or inability to negotiate a fair and transparent pay package, even at this late hour.

IALPA is seeking pay levels it believes are common and competitive in the commercial airline sector, from a company that made a substantial profit of €1bn last year, she said.

Ryanair said the pilots withdrew from mediation after no progress was made on their "unrealistic demands".

It said in a statement at yesterday's mediation, the Ryanair Pilots Committee and Fórsa confirmed that they are seeking pay increases of 101pc.

It said this is on top of current annual pay of over €172,000.

"Ryanair pilots are insisting on these pay demands being met, just one day after Norwegian announced the closure of its Dublin operations with the loss of over 120 crew jobs, despite the fact that Ryanair has a surplus of over 500 pilots due to the delayed delivery of over 30 Max aircraft this winter, and just 10 weeks before a 'no-deal' Brexit could cause further disruption to air travel and airline jobs in Ireland and the UK," it said.

It called on its pilots and Fórsa to return to talks with reasonable proposals which reflect the falling airfares and profits Ryanair has recently reported. It said Ryanair pilot pay is already 20pc ahead of comparable 737 airline pilot pay in Norwegian and Jet2.

Company sources said they are confident that they will be able to minimise disruption and re-accommodate passengers on other flights if the strikes go ahead.

Cancellations will be limited to UK provincial flights as much as possible, as was the case during similar industrial action by the pilots last year.

Passengers are likely to be re-accommodated on the same routes at a different time of the day than they booked.

Irish Independent

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