Pilots threaten to ground CityJet before Christmas in pay row

Unite accuses company of compounding dispute over issue of union representation

Pilots at the Irish carrier began limited industrial action in September

Pilots at the Irish carrier began limited industrial action in September

 

Pilots are threatening to ground airline CityJet in the run-up to Christmas in a row over pay and union recognition partly driven by its plan to open a base in Amsterdam.

Trade union Unite said on Monday that 82 per cent of the CityJet pilots that it represented voted to strike in the coming weeks, although it has yet to set any dates for any stoppages.

The Irish airline responded by saying that it expected no disruptions to flights between Dublin and London City Airport as “less than a quarter” of pilots based in the Irish capital’s airport were threatening to strike.

“The airline employs 80 pilots at its Dublin base, with a minority being affiliated to the trade union,” CityJet said in a statement.

Pilots at the Irish carrier began limited industrial action in September in a dispute over pay and what they say is the company’s refusal to have the issue referred to the Workplace Relations Commission.

Unite regional officer Willie Quigley accused CityJet of compounding both issues by threatening to end its agreement to allow the union to represent pilots.

“This is a denial of our members’ rights to collective representation by the union of their choice,” he said.

“Other issues in dispute range from CityJet’s refusal to adequately compensate pilots who are being moved to the Amsterdam base to the imposition of ‘bond payments’ to secure a job with the company,” he said.

Overnight allowances

Labour Court

Part of the dispute is rooted in CityJet’s plans to open a base in Amsterdam so it can cut costs by reducing the number of overnight allowances that it will have to pay its pilots.

However, lower-paid pilots, below the rank of captain, said it would cut their take-home pay by up to 50 per cent as they will receive fewer overnight allowances and sector payments.

Sources said this was already beginning to happen as CityJet’s November roster had cut pilots’ overnights to three this month from about 10 normally. This has cut the variable element of their pay, which can come to about half of what they take home every month.

Second officers earn basic salaries of €25,000 a year while first officers receive €35,000 a year. CityJet pays captains €75,000. On top of this, co-pilots receive €1,900 to €2,300 a month in overnights and other allowances.

As a result, half of what second officers earn is variable pay while about one-third of what first officers are paid is variable.

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