Saturday 21 September 2019

Ryanair pilot strike threat over working practices raises fears of holiday disruption

Holidaymakers are facing the threat of chaos this summer as Ryanair pilots warn of a strike threat. Stock Image: PA
Holidaymakers are facing the threat of chaos this summer as Ryanair pilots warn of a strike threat. Stock Image: PA

Graham Fahy

Holidaymakers are facing potential disruption this summer after Ryanair pilots threatened to strike.

Irish pilots’ union IALPA has given the airline until Thursday to agree to new working practices or it will ballot pilots for possible industrial action, including strikes.

The Irish airline recognised trade unions in December for the first time in its 32-year history, after a chaotic period when the company was forced to cancel thousands of flights due to rostering problems.

IALPA, which abandoned a planned strike in December, wrote to Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary last week demanding the introduction of new systems for dealing with allocations to Ryanair bases around Europe, promotions, and annual leave.

“If it is not possible to negotiate the introduction of such a seniority agreement for the benefit of our member pilots directly employed by Ryanair, it is our intention to ballot our member pilots employed by Ryanair for sanction for industrial action up to and including strike action,” the union wrote.

It said pilots complain that mandatory relocations to other Ryanair bases cause family upheaval.

Pilots are demanding transparency so that members know why specific pilots are selected for transfers or why requests for transfers are denied.

The union wants the company to tell pilots why they are in the base they are in, the order in which their turn may come for a transfer, and why they received a particular annual leave allowance.

It also wants greater transparency around promotions and internal moves.

Ryanair, which is due to release financial results this morning, said that it doesn’t comment on negotiations with its staff.

In the past it has said the Irish union was making demands not compatible with its “low-fares, high-productivity model”.

Since deciding to recognise trade unions, Ryanair has come to bilateral agreements with pilots in Britain and Italy, but is still working towards deals with unions in other major centres such as Ireland and Spain.

The airline has experienced some minor disruption due to industrial action in Germany and Portugal, but has so far avoided a major strike.

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