Pi­lots aim for €100k ‘safety net’ fund to back col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing push

Irish Independent - Business Week - - BUSINESSWEEK - John Mul­li­gan

AS much as €3,000 a day is be­ing raised for a fund that will be used to pro­vide benev­o­lent fi­nan­cial sup­port to pi­lots, in­clud­ing those from Ryanair, who could find them­selves in fi­nan­cial dif­fi­culty as a re­sult of lead­ing de­mands for col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing rights at their air­lines.

The fund was set up by the Euro­pean Cock­pit As­so­ci­a­tion (ECA) just three weeks ago amid the fall­out from Ryanair’s pi­lot-ros­ter­ing dis­as­ter, which re­sulted in the air­line can­celling thou­sands of flights.

The ECA said that the re­cent can­cel­la­tion cri­sis shows that there is “a new gen­er­a­tion of pi­lots [ready] to act”.

“They want to ne­go­ti­ate as a group, on equal terms with their man­age­ment. They want to elect their pi­lot lead­ers. They want their rep­re­sen­ta­tives to stand up and speak on their be­half, with­out fear of pun­ish­ment,” ac­cord­ing to the ECA on the crowd­fund­ing plat­form through which it is rais­ing money for the benev­o­lent fund.

The ECA added that the fund has been es­tab­lished “on be­half of the en­tire pi­lot com­mu­nity”. It said its “sole pur­pose” is to pro­vide a fi­nan­cial “safety net” to pi­lot lead­ers who have “dis­tin­guished them­selves in the strug­gle for col­lec­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tion”, in the event they lose their jobs or suf­fer a loss of in­come.

The ECA set a short-term tar­get of rais­ing €100,000 for the fund. As of yes­ter­day, it had raised more than €78,000, with in­di­vid­ual do­na­tions in the pre­vi­ous 24 hours rang­ing from €20 to €1,000.

How­ever, the €100,000 that’s be­ing raised is less than what a Ryanair cap­tain would typ­i­cally earn in a full year.

Ryanair has never pre­vented staff from join­ing unions, but does not recog­nise unions and is legally en­ti­tled not to do so.

It deals with pi­lots via al­most 90 Em­ployee Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Com­mit­tees (ERCs) that it es­tab­lished across Europe.

How­ever, more than 3,000 of Ryanair’s 4,200 pi­lots at more than 50 bases have now de­manded that Ryanair en­gages with a newly-es­tab­lished Euro­pean Em­ployee Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Com­mit­tee (EERC) that was formed in the wake of the ros­ter­ing cri­sis.

Ryanair has so far re­fused to do so. It has con­tended that the ERCs have been con­firmed by the Supreme Court as a valid means of pur­su­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween em­ployee and em­ployer and that the air­line will only en­gage with pi­lots via the ERCs.

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary

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