Monday 14 October 2019

Ryanair pilots push for pay rise as threat of disruption in UK grows

Stock Image: PA
Stock Image: PA

Anne-Marie Walsh

Irish-based Ryanair pilots are at loggerheads with airline bosses after lodging a claim for a pay rise ahead of the busy summer holiday season.

The Irish Airline Pilots' Association (Ialpa) put in the claim less than a year after the carrier was embroiled in a dispute that led to flight cancellations last summer.

It is understood that the airline told the union to come back with "sensible proposals" in a letter after it submitted details of its demands.

Sources said the letter described the claim as having no basis in reality and said Ryanair pilots in Ireland are better paid than their counterparts in Norwegian and Jet2.

Numerous flights were cancelled in a separate dispute last year when over 100 Ialpa members mounted pickets.

They demanded that seniority should decide various perks in the row that was eventually resolved following an intervention by mediator Kieran Mulvey.

The budget airline said pilots earned up to €200,000 a year and worked a fixed roster of five days on and four off. It added that they had already agreed to a 20pc pay rise.

The Ialpa's pay claim comes as Ryanair faces a fresh threat of disruption in the UK, which is home to one of its biggest bases at Stansted Airport.

Members of the British Airline Pilots' Association (Balpa), which represents 600 directly employed pilots, indicated they would support industrial action over their terms and conditions in a pay dispute if they were balloted. Sources revealed that the Irish pay claim closely mirrors demands made by the British pilots.

A memo to Balpa members said 90pc of pilots who voted supported the non-binding call for industrial action.

Previously, the union accused the airline of failing to table a counter offer and said it had used stalling tactics. The indicative ballot may be followed by an official ballot, but the union said it wanted to reach a negotiated settlement if possible.

The two unions refused to comment yesterday.

In a statement, Ryanair said: "We don't comment on negotiations with our people."

Ryanair cabin crew are also trying to improve their terms and conditions. Fórsa is engaged in talks on a collective labour agreement, having hammered out a deal to recognise the union last August.

Sources said Fórsa was discussing a pay increase and proposals on the rules regarding transfers. The talks have been complex as some of the crew work for Ryanair, and others for agencies.

Cabin crew also went on strike last year but industrial action was quelled as the airline struck deals with unions across Europe.

Ryanair dramatically changed its anti-union stance in December 2017 to recognise unions for the first time to avoid a strike by pilots.

Meanwhile, British Airways pilots have called for a strike ballot after rejecting a pay offer.

Irish Independent

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