herald

Monday 24 September 2018

Ryanair pilots to strike again in more chaos for holidaymakers

Ryanair pilots pictured on the picket line at Dublin Airport this morning, for the first strike in the history of Ryanair
Ryanair pilots pictured on the picket line at Dublin Airport this morning, for the first strike in the history of Ryanair
Eddie Wilson

Summer travel plans have been thrown into further chaos after a section of Ryanair pilots announced another two strike dates.

In an escalation of their industrial dispute, the Irish Air Line Pilots' Association (Ialpa) branch of the Forsa union decided last night to add two more day-long strike dates over the next fortnight.

It means passengers flying in and out of the country on Friday, July 20 and Tuesday, July 24 are in line for disruption.

Statement

Ialpa said that while some common ground was reached in the dispute on Wednesday, not enough progress was made to prevent an escalation of the strike action, which will begin at 1am on both days.

"The union and management found some common ground in talks on Wednesday on the proposal that a joint working group could help the parties agree on a fair and transparent method to govern base transfer arrangements and related matters, but failed to reach agreement on the terms of reference for such a group," Ialpa said in a statement.

Close to 100 Ryanair pilots in Ireland staged their first ever strike yesterday, remaining grounded in a dispute over employment conditions.

They are all directly employed by the airline, whereas pilots who are hired as contractors did not take part. Yesterday's action saw Ryanair cancel 30 flights, primarily services between Ireland and the UK. It is understood that Ryanair requested pilots in countries including Spain to provide cover in Ireland yesterday for the strike, and that some of them refused.

Ryanair's chief people officer, Eddie Wilson, criticised trade union Forsa for seeking what he said were a number of adjournments during last-minute talks on Wednesday between the two sides. He also claimed that union demands for a seniority agreement for the promotion of pilots would not work in Ireland-based pilots' favour.

Mr Wilson also called on unions to accept the offer of working groups to address any grievances.

"We respect but regret the decision of 25pc of our Irish pilots to go on strike, but believe that they should take up our offer of working groups so we can resolve these issues," the airline said.

The ballot for yesterday's and future strike action was only open to staff Ryanair pilots who are union members. All but one of the 95 ballots were in favour of action. Ryanair said it remains ready to engage with the union in further talks.

A Spanish trade union has said a planned strike by Ryanair cabin crew there later this month needs to have a "massive turnout" or they will lose the "only leverage" they have over the airline.

As many as 1,500 Ryanair cabin crew members in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Belgium are expected by unions to strike on July 25 for 24 hours. Another 24-hour strike will be held on July 26 by cabin crew from Spain, Portugal and Belgium.

"It is of the upmost importance that this strike is successful and has a massive following," Spanish trade union Sitcpla told members in a circular seen by the Herald.

It added: "If we fail to ground aircraft, the company in the future will not take into consideration our demands as they will think we are bluffing. We will lose the only leverage we have as workers."

Last night, Ryanair responded to the threat of further strikes, saying: "As we said in our memo, we would encourage our pilots to take up our offer of a working group to resolve these issues, but if they wish to hold another unsuccessful strike again, then so be it. We will contact customers in due course when we receive details."

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