Irish Independent

‘We have them on their knees’: 350 pilots at Ryanair urged to join union

Dublin pilots are targeted for strike threat

- John Mulligan and Ian Begley

ABOUT 350 Ryanair pilots in Dublin have been urged by colleagues to join the Irish Airline Pilots’ Associatio­n (IALPA) by lunchtime tomorrow as a stand-off with management intensifie­s across the carrier.

“Pilots, we have them on their knees,” according to the memo sent last night, which has been seen by the Irish Independen­t.

It adds: “You can be sure that this opportunit­y will never arise again.”

Pilots at about 55 of Ryanair’s 86 bases have already rejected a proposal from the airline that captains would be paid €12,000 for working 10 of their days off over the next year, as the carrier struggles to manage a flights fiasco that has affected hundreds of thousands of people.

Ryanair is also offering an additional, unconditio­nal €10,000 payment to pilots at some bases.

Europe’s biggest airline is non-unionised and even if staff are members of a union, the company does not have to recognise the union.

But the blunt message sent to pilots from unionised colleagues yesterday evening is certain to put them on course a showdown with senior executives.

“Being a [union] member is the only way to legitimise any action that might be required either now or in the future,” the memo says.

It adds that if pilots join the union, “we can now ballot our members for some type of industrial action up to and including a strike.”

The memo adds: “Once the ballot is complete and there is a majority, we have to send seven days’ notice to the company of industrial action.”

The memo informs pilots that despite Ryanair not recognisin­g unions, once staff are union members, they are entitled to engage in industrial action.

“Our futures are at stake here,” last night’s pilot memo states. “Be under no illusion, we have the upper hand but Ryanair will come out fighting.”

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said last week that “hell would freeze over” before he would welcome unions into the airline.

An internatio­nal federation of more than 700 transport unions has already warned that Ryanair’s rejection of staff demands is putting the airline’s future in doubt.

The Internatio­nal Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) said the carrier’s business model must now reform and warned that it would work with unions to improve their conditions.

It said the emergence this week of a more co-ordinated approach from workers would “expedite access to improvemen­ts”.

The union umbrella group claimed it had been approached by investors who were concerned by analysts’ estimates that compliance with a recent European Court of Justice judgment will hike Ryanair’s labour costs by up to 20pc.

ITF general secretary Steve Cotton said investors were beginning to question the sustainabi­lity of the airline’s “aggressive and cost-cutting business model”.

Meanwhile, passengers hit by flight cancellati­ons are facing further aggravatio­n as insurance firms refuse to cover their travel costs.

The airline is cancelling more than 2,000 flights until the end of October, leaving many of its customers out of pocket.

Ryanair has already offered affected passengers refunds or alternativ­e flights, along with up to €400 compensati­on under EU legislatio­n.

However, many will still be at a loss due to other costs, such as hotel bookings, car rentals and tickets for events.

A source from Insurance Ireland said it was up to customers to see what their travel insurance policy covers them for.

“In the UK, the ‘Telegraph’ reported that a survey of travel insurers found that most standard policies will not cover “consequent­ial losses” which result from flight cancellati­ons.

 ??  ?? Defiant: Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary
Defiant: Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary

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