herald

Friday 13 December 2019

Ryanair seeks court order to block pilots' 48-hour strike plan

People fear their Ryanair flights will be cancelled
People fear their Ryanair flights will be cancelled

Ryanair is stepping up its efforts to block a strike by Irish-based pilots from going ahead next week and threatening massive disruption to passengers.

The airline is seeking a High Court order stopping trade union Forsa, the parent union of the Irish Airline Pilots' Association (Ialpa), from striking for 48 hours starting at midnight on August 22 in a row over pay and conditions.

It claims that the action is not bona fide' and breaches an agreement made last year.

Counsel for Ryanair said it also wants the hearing of the action to take place as soon as possible so its passengers can be kept fully informed of what is to happen with its scheduled flights next week.

Disruption

Permission to serve short notice of the injunction application was granted yesterday on an ex-parte basis by Ms Justice Carmel Stewart.

The application will be returned to on Monday.

Ryanair argued that it is not possible to quantify the disruption the planned action will cause.

The industrial action last year resulted in the cancellation of more than 100 flights and disrupted the travel plans of 18,000 Irish passengers.

Ryanair said having a strike shortly before the end of the summer holidays will cause maximum distress to Irish families returning home before schools start.

Martin Hayden, for Ryanair, said the choice of dates by the union was deliberate.

As well as it being the end of the school holidays, the industrial action also coincides with similar actions being taken by Ryanair pilots based in the UK.

The proposed strike, the airline claims, will damage its reputation for reliability.

Ryanair says it had successfully mediated with the union, reaching agreements last Aug-ust and last March.

The action is also against a number of pilots who are members of Ialpa including union president, Evan Cullen.

Ialpa represents about 180 Dublin-based pilots directly employed by the airline.

If granted, injunctions would remain in place pending the final outcome of the airline's action against the defendants.

Ryanair, represented by Mr Hayden and barrister Eoin O'Shea, is also seeking a declaration that Forsa's ballot and its notice of strike action served earlier this week was unlawful.

The airline claims it would also breach a deal the parties made to follow a mediation conducted by retired Workplace Relations Commission chair Kieran Mulvey last year.

In a recent meeting the parties had with Mr Mulvey, counsel said the union had walked away from the mediation after saying the process had failed.

Valid

It added that it had asked Forsa for details about the pay increase the union sought, but had not got them.

Counsel said Ryanair still "does not know" exactly what the pilots want.

The airline also claims there is no trade dispute, nor any valid complaint about the pilots' terms and conditions, and that the ballot is a manufactured and not a bona fide dispute.

On those grounds, the airline claims the union and its members are not entitled to the benefits of the 1990 Industrial Relations Acts.

In light of the union's actions, Ryanair seeks various orders from the court, including an order that the union specifically perform the 2018 agreement, and damages.

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