Ryanair pressure grows as cabin crew unions seek recognition

Airline wrote to pilots’ unions offering to begin talks on recognition in bid to avert strikes

Ryanair cabin crew trade unions are seeking recognition alongside its pilots in a move that will add to the pressures faced by the Irish low-cost airline.

The news emerged as pilot unions continued to threaten strikes at Ryanair despite chief executive Michael O’Leary’s pledge that the company would enter talks with them on recognition.

In a U-turn on its policy of not dealing with labour groups, Ryanair wrote to pilots’ unions, including Impact in the Republic, offering to begin talks on recognition in a bid to avert strikes at Irish and European bases.

However, Impact said it would not withdraw notice of a pilots’ strike at Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports next Wednesday, December 20th, without first meeting Ryanair, which claims it cannot meet the union before that date.

Liz Blackshaw, International Transport Workers' Federation campaigns director, confirmed on Friday that the organisation had written to Ryanair seeking recognition for unions representing cabin crew.

“We want an ongoing framework for dialogue to significantly improve terms and conditions for Ryanair cabin crew,” Ms Blackshaw said.

Her organisation has affiliates in around 150 countries, including Siptu and Impact in the Republic.

She added that the federation had written to the airline on behalf of 30 unions, representing large numbers of cabin crew in Europe, which met in Florence in Italy this week to discuss Ryanair.


Ryanair has around 8,000 cabin crew, but a majority of them work directly for agencies, including Dublin-based Crewlink and Workforce International, rather than for the airline itself.

Ms Blackshaw said that unions wanted to tackle issues such as direct employment, and discuss pay, rosters and other conditions.

After Ryanair announced that it would recognise pilots' unions, its chief people officer Eddie Wilson indicated that it could do the same for cabin crew. "If we get an approach we will consider this," he said.

Impact does not represent cabin crew in Ryanair, but the union indicated on Friday that it would welcome moves to recognise groups that represent these staff.

Efforts to avert Ryanair pilot strikes in the Republic and Germany appeared to have stalled on Friday night as unions in both countries sought further signs of the airline's commitment to enter talks.

Impact spokesman Niall Shanahan insisted that it was normal for the two sides in a dispute to meet before threatened strike action was withdrawn. "Unless and until that happens, I do not see industrial action being suspended."

Planned action

Up to 117 members of the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (IALPA) – part of Impact – working for Ryanair look set to go ahead with their planned action on Wednesday, December 20th, potentially disrupting flights at the Republic’s three biggest airports.

Ryanair pointed out that Impact promised to call off the strike if it conceded recognition. “They’ve gotten our offer of recognition in writing and we’re happy to meet them next week, which itself is the first act in recognising IALPA,” Ryanair said.

Germany's pilots' union VC welcomed Ryanair's willingness to recognise it as the organisation representing the airline's pilots based in that country. "As soon as we have received dates to start the negotiation process, planned strike measures will be called off," said VC president Ilja Schulz.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas