Saturday 24 August 2019

Ryanair pilots identify themselves as new employee council following rostering fiasco

John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Five Ryanair pilots based in Portugal have identified themselves as representatives of a new employee council that aims to commence negotiations for a collective labour agreement with airline management.

The move is hugely significant in an on-going effort by a large number of Ryanair pilots to initiate collective bargaining across Europe with the airline.

In a letter sent on Monday to Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary, the president of Portugal's Civil Aviation Pilots' Union, Sindicato dos Pilotos da Aviacao Civil (SPAC), Alfredo Mendonca, has urged the airline to "immediately enter direct negotiations" with a newly-formed European Employee Representative Committee (EERC), as the "legitimate voice of the pilot body, to develop a framework agreement for pilot representation in Ryanair".

The EERC was formed in the wake of Ryanair's pilot rostering fiasco. The airline has said it will never negotiate with the EERC. 

Ryanair instead relies on Employee Representative Committees it established across its almost 90 bases to negotiate with pilots, a system that has been in place for more than 20 years.

Mr Mendonca said in the letter to Mr O'Leary, seen by, that SPAC is "pleased to advise you that Ryanair pilots based in Portugal have decided to form the Ryanair Company Council in SPAC".

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The SPAC president names the five pilots in the letter to Mr O'Leary.

"With appropriate support from SPAC these pilots will in due course negotiate with Ryanair on the details of a collective labour agreement," he added in the letter.

"We look forward to supporting our members in Portugal through their SPAC Company Council to engage in constructive dialogue with Ryanair."

Pilots are hoping the naming of the pilots as employees prepared to negotiate with Ryanair management will intensify pressure on the airline to engage with the EERC and commence collective bargaining.

A Ryanair spokesman said: "This letter from the Portuguese pilots union has as little validity as letters from Irish, English or Italian pilot unions or their puppet EERC.

"These competitor airline unions fail to realise that Ryanair pilots and the airline have participated in collective bargaining for over 25 years and the existing multi-year pay deals (which were approved by a majority of Ryanair pilots voting in secret ballot) run in most cases until 2020 or 2021, unless changed by agreement between Ryanair and its pilot bases.

"While these pilot unions send meaningless letters to the media, Ryanair continues to negotiate substantial pay increases directly with an increasing number of pilot bases.”

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