Irish pilots’ association pledges support for Ryanair colleagues
Ialpa says Michael O’Leary must address pilots’ grievances
Pilots’ group: Ialpa represents pilots at Aer Lingus and other airlines. Stock photograph: Nardus Engelbrecht/Gallo/Getty
The Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association has offered its support to the group of Ryanair pilots who are trying to introduce collective bargaining at the carrier.
Ryanair does not deal with trade unions, instead negotiating with its 4,200 pilots through employee-representative councils, or ERCs, at each of its bases. The new group, which emerged as the airline was caught in its cancellations controversy, is seeking support to negotiate collectively on their behalf.
Ialpa has written to the new organisation, which refers to itself as the interim European employee representative council, or EERC, saying that the best way for Ryanair to succeed in the long term is to address pilots’ grievances. “At the moment a centralised EERC is the best means to do that,” it says. “Our association can support this, if the pilots support it.” The letter also says that Ialpa, a branch of the trade union Impact, has met up to 1,000 Ryanair pilots recently.
The EERC is proposing that pilots at each base elect representatives to their local ERCs in the normal way. They would nominate regional representatives, who would then deal with the company.
Last week Ryanair’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary, wrote to pilots offering improved pay, contracts, rosters and career progression over the next 12 months. He also said he would beat the pay and security offered by rivals.
Ryanair said on Monday that Ialpa was an Aer Lingus pilots’ group, that it did not “respond to their false claims” and that it would not correspond with the EERC, which it argued had no substance and no status. The airline added that Mr O’Leary’s letter to pilots last week pointed out that the airline already had agreements at all its bases, some running to 2021, which were negotiated and approved by secret ballot.
“The only way to vary these deals is by negotiation through your base ERCs since we will not, and cannot be forced to, deal with third-party pilots’ unions or regional/pan-European committees set up by these competitor pilots’ unions,” his letter said.
The need for pilots to take remaining leave as the airline prepared to introduce a new system for calculating their flying hours led Ryanair to cancel thousands of flights until next March, affecting about 700,000 passengers. Emails from the EERC to the airline’s pilots emerged as the controversy was growing over the past four weeks. The organisation says it has support across Ryanair’s 87 bases in Europe.
Ialpa represents pilots at Aer Lingus, Ryanair’s main Irish competitor, and other airlines. It is affiliated to the European Cockpit Association, the umbrella organisation for pilots’ unions in Europe, and the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations.