Irish holidaymakers face potential Ryanair cancellations

Result due on Tuesday in ballot of pilots over industrial action amid row over seniority

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary at a press conference in Dublin last year. A vote by Ryanair pilots on industrial action closes on Tuesday. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary at a press conference in Dublin last year. A vote by Ryanair pilots on industrial action closes on Tuesday. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw


Thousands of holidaymakers in Ireland face the possibility of cancelled flights if Ryanair pilots here vote on Tuesday on taking industrial action for the first time in a row over seniority.

Members of the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (Ialpa) – part of trade union Fórsa – at the budget airline have been voting in a ballot for industrial action up to and including strike action in recent weeks.

The vote closes on Tuesday, with the result likely to be known at some point during the day.

A vote for industrial action would leave it open to pilots to strike from next week, the peak of the holiday season when thousands of Irish people are likely to be travelling abroad.

Trade unions must give employers seven days’ notice if they intend to strike or take some other form of industrial action in a dispute.

If a stoppage were to go ahead it would be the first strike by Irish-based pilots at Ryanair.

The carrier avoided industrial action by Irish and other European pilots’ groups in the run-up to last Christmas by announcing in a dramatic change of policy that it would recognise trade unions.

According to a Fórsa spokesman, the dispute is over Ryanair’s failure to reach a seniority agreement with the staff involved.

Only Irish-based, directly-employed Ryanair pilots who are members of Ialpa are taking part in the ballot. The total number is thought to be about 100. The airline employs more than 300 pilots here.

Ryanair was contacted for a comment on the ballot but did not respond.

Appeals process

Pilots are seeking transparent procedures for promotions and transfers between bases, as well as an acceptable appeals process.

They also want the system used to allocate annual leave to take into account seniority and family circumstances.

The failure to reach a seniority agreement is tied to the fact that Ialpa and Ryanair have yet to strike a formal deal on recognising the union’s right to negotiate for pilots based in Ireland.

The two sides met to discuss this in December and early January, but the process has slowed since then.

Ryanair has been in talks with labour groups across Europe since announcing that it would recognise unions late last year.

Releasing its full-year results a number of weeks ago, Ryanair said it had made a promising start to these negotiations, signing recognition deals with the British Airline Pilots’ Association, and Anpac in Italy.

Ryanair added that it was also making progress with cabin crew talks. Representatives of those staff are in Dublin this week for a summit hosted by Fórsa, which is likely to result in them drawing up a charter of demands.

The airline recently signed a deal with trade union Unite covering directly-employed cabin crew based in Northern Ireland and Britain.

In Portugal, cabin crew union SNPVAC has held a number of one-day strikes that forced Ryanair to cancel some flights.

Members of German pilot union VC also halted work briefly days before last Christmas, but Ryanair said this did not prevent any of its flights taking off from the airports affected.