Ryanair warns of further Irish job cuts if strikes continue

Airline makes threat as it issues protective notice to pilots and cabin crew

Cabin crew in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Belgium began a two-day strike on Wednesday, July 25th, prompting Ryanair to cancel more than 12 per cent of its flights. Video: Reuters

 

Ryanair has not ruled out further job cuts on top of the possible 300 announced on Wednesday if Irish pilots continue striking.

The airline on Wednesday issued 90 days’ protective notice to more than 100 pilots and 200 cabin crew based at Dublin Airport, partly blaming the impact of recent pilot strikes on Irish bookings and fares.

Ryanair said its board had approved plans to cut its Dublin fleet to 24 from 30 next winter, and it will move the craft to Poland, where its business is growing.

The Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (Ialpa) – part of trade union Fórsa – responded that members at Ryanair would hold a fourth strike on Friday, August 3rd.

Ialpa-Fórsa added that further action could follow next month unless Ryanair negotiated on the issues in dispute, base transfers, promotions and leave.

Eddie Wilson, Ryanair’s chief people officer, warned Fórsa that the airline could not rule out “more aircraft – and more jobs – being cut in Ireland” if its operations here suffered more damage as a result of the union’s fourth strike.

“We will not hold any further meetings with Fórsa while the threat of strikes hangs over our Irish business and our customers,” Mr Wilson said in a letter to Angela Kirk, the union’s national secretary.

He added that Ryanair would meet the union at its headquarters after next Friday’s strike as long as Ialpa-Fórsa planned no further action.

Pressure

The union accused Ryanair of trying to put pressure on workers by issuing protective notice and insisted that this would harden pilots’ resolve.

“Ryanair’s unnecessary decision to issue protective notice to 300 of its staff today is reckless and unnecessary, and demonstrates management’s unwillingness and/or inability to implement the airline’s declared intention to agree working conditions with its staff by negotiating with their chosen trade union representatives,” Fórsa said.

The airline cited the profitable growth of its Polish charter airline, Ryanair Sun, as another reason for its decision.

Peter Bellew, Ryanair’s chief operating officer, said it regretted the cuts at Dublin but noted the board had decided to allocate aircraft to markets where its business was growing.

Ryanair will begin consultations with workers who received the notice. The company said its assessment of flight performance, productivity and base transfer requests would determine reductions in staff.

Workers will be offered transfers to Poland, among other bases, for winter. The changes will take effect from October 28th if they go ahead.

British Airline Pilots’ Association general secretary Brian Strutton called the Dublin cuts regrettable and said his union was seeking agreement on several matters with Ryanair.

These include seniority, the issue over which Ialpa-Fórsa is striking, pay and a reduction in the number of contract pilots. “Ryanair has so far failed to accept any of these proposals,” he said.