Ryanair pilots who are members of the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association have announced plans to strike on Wednesday 20th December – just five days before Christmas Day.
Flight disruptions are expected when Irish-based directly-employed pilots, mostly captains, withdraw their labour during one of the busiest travel weeks of the year.
The pilots backed industrial action by a margin of 94% to 6% in secret ballots conducted over the last week.
Although the number of employees involved in the strike is fewer than the total number of Irish-based Ryanair pilots, the action will have an impact because planes cannot legally or safely fly without a captain.
An IMPACT trade union statement said the dispute is over Ryanair management’s refusal to enter direct negotiations with the European Employee Representative Council (EERC) or IALPA as the sole independent representative body for pilots working in the company.
Union representatives say the airline has so far refused to recognise the EERC or IALPA, and insists that any discussion of pay and working conditions be conducted through management-controlled “employee representative councils.”
The action on December 20th is expected to generate either disruptions or substantial costs to Ryanair. The union has warned of further strike days if agreement is not reached.
IMPACT official Ashley Connolly said Ryanair was the only Irish-based airline that refuses to recognise independent pilot representatives.
Ms Connolly said: “This dispute is solely about winning independent representation for pilots in the company. Management’s failed negotiating model has let down shareholders and tens of thousands of passengers, whose flights were cancelled this year because company-controlled industrial relations proved incapable of recruiting and retaining enough pilots.
“The failed policy threatens to further disappoint shareholders and passengers, and further damage the airline’s reputation, because experienced pilots continue to leave the airline in droves.
“This dispute is about securing a safe space for negotiations, with independent representation that pilots can have confidence in,” she said.
The union said it has made repeated attempts to open discussions with airline management in recent months.