British Ryanair pilots issue ‘failure to agree notice’

Airline to meet British pilots’ union on Thursday

Speaking at a press conference in Vienna Ryanair's chief executive Michael O'Leary has said that staff are striking "for the sake of striking". Video: Reuters


British Ryanair pilots have taken a step closer to joining Irish and European colleagues on the picket lines adding to the airline’s mounting industrial relations woes.

Ryanair is facing a fourth one-day stoppage by members of the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association on Friday, August 3rd, while the company acknowledged that unions in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden could all strike seven days later.

The British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) has issued a “failure to agree notice” to Ryanair, the first of several steps towards industrial action, indicating that talks with the Irish carrier have reached an impasse.

Ryanair said that it was meeting Balpa on Thursday and would continue its negotiations towards a collective labour agreement for the airline’s UK pilots.

Britain is one of Ryanair’s biggest markets, and was responsible for more than 30 million of the 130 million passengers that the airline flew in the 12 months ended March 31st, its last financial year.

Earlier this year, Balpa became the first pilots’ union to sign a formal recognition deal with Ryanair after the company agreed to recognise labour organisations.

The union confirmed has submitted proposals to Ryanair seeking “an end to a fragmented pay structure, to reduce the number of contract pilots and the acceptance of seniority”. Balpa general secretary, Brian Strutton, said that the airline had so far failed to accept them.

Meanwhile, Ryanair chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, said that the company was at various stages of agreeing collective labour agreements with pilots’ unions in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Those organisations, along with the Swedish equivalent, appear likely to strike on Friday 10th of August.

Ryanair has asked all the unions to give it seven days’ notice of industrial action to allow it make alternative arrangements for passengers such as re-accommodating or refunding them.

Members of Germany’s Vereingung Cockpit (VC) voted for industrial action in a ballot concluded this week. The union did not set a date for striking but gave the airline until August 6th to submit fresh proposals on a collective agreement.

Mr Jacobs said that Ryanair has sent VC revised proposals on an agreement as requested. “We have invited them to meet us next Tuesday to discuss that,” he added.

He pointed out that the airline was taking similar steps with unions in Belgium and Holland. Ryanair hopes to conclude collective labour deals with pilot organisations in many of its key markets by autumn.

Ryanair has said it is willing to discuss all proposals with pilots’ unions, but does not want to compromise its low-cost, efficient, approach to its business.