Ryanair court win shows it has plenty of fight for unions

Cantillon: A year on from forced acceptance of unions, airline averts peak-time strike

Just over 18 months ago, Ryanair was in crisis mode. Overcapacity in the budget travel sector, a pilot shortage and a rostering failure created a perfect storm which forced it into recognising unions, thereby ditching a long-held policy.

But the tables have somewhat turned, at least on these shores. Ryanair's victory in the High Court on Wednesday – by securing an injunction to prevent strike action on Thursday and Friday – shows that it's not going to take calls from unions lying down.

While a year ago, it was struggling due to an industry-wide pilot shortage, today it can have its pick of the bunch given recent failures at other airlines.

Little wonder, then, that it wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of offering its Irish-based pilots a 100 per cent pay rise, especially considering some captains take home €172,000 a year.


Ballot box

And even if pilots do eventually go back to the ballot box, this victory has been significant in that it has effectively ended the prospect of disruption for passengers flying from the Republic in the peak summer period.

But it hasn’t been so lucky elsewhere, losing a similar battle in the British courts.

In any event, it now wants Fórsa to return to mediation to resolve disputes without “unnecessarily disrupting the travel plans of thousands of Irish passengers and their families”.

Fórsa failure

Fórsa, meanwhile, didn’t cover itself in glory during the hearing after initially failing to provide evidence to prove that the ballot for strike action was communicated to members of the union. Following the conclusion of the hearing, its statement was much more muted than we’re used to seeing.

Although it now has its tail between its legs, the union will likely fight back with lessons learned from the latest instalment in their relatively new relationship with Ryanair.

And for the airline itself, after a series of hard battles over the past year-and-a-half, nobody would blame them if they savoured their Irish victory. Not least because there’s plenty of fights still to be had.