Ryanair deal with Irish pilots puts an end to strikes – for now
Directly employed union members have agreed on system to determine seniority
Ryanair pilots on the picket line outside Ryanair headquarters in Swords in July. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins
The Ryanair-Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (Ialpa) deal means passengers need no longer fear strikes at the carrier’s bases in the Republic, for the time being at least.
Following a dispute that ran for weeks, followed by protracted mediation talks and then a ballot, Ialpa members directly employed by Ryanair voted for an agreement on a system that determines pilot seniority.
This in turn will help determine things such as base allocation and transfers, promotion, command upgrades – that is who takes command when two captains are flying an aircraft and play a role in allocating annual leave.
While Ryanair has settled its Irish question, it still faces potential disputes in other countries. Early last month, pilots in Belgium, Germany, Holland and Sweden staged one-day strikes at the same time as their Irish colleagues.
These disputes have yet to play out. The European pilot unions remained quiet since the one-day strike early last month, but they have presumably been watching as Irish pilots entered mediation and then voted on their agreement.
Their disputes were on various grounds. Seniority featured in some claims, but one common theme for the European unions was a demand that Ryanair employ members according to local terms and conditions rather than on Irish contracts.
As Ryanair is an Irish airline, regulated in the Republic, its craft are also registered here, so those working on them can be hired on contracts governed by Irish law. The German, Dutch and Belgians argue for various reasons that they would be better off employed under the laws of their own countries.
Ultimately, whether or not they would be better off is a matter for debate, but it is an issue that the airline will have to face once it begins talking to these organisations.