Second strike by Ryanair pilots planned for Friday

Airline says 24 flights between Ireland and UK will be cancelled if the strike goes ahead

Ryanair’s chief operations officer Peter Bellew (left) and chief people officer Eddie Wilson, who has asked pilots to postpone an “unnecessary” strike scheduled for Friday. File photograph: Collins

Ryanair’s chief operations officer Peter Bellew (left) and chief people officer Eddie Wilson, who has asked pilots to postpone an “unnecessary” strike scheduled for Friday. File photograph: Collins

 

A second strike by Irish Ryanair pilots appears set to go ahead on Friday, resulting in the cancellation of up to 24 flights between Ireland and the UK.

During a strike by about 100 members of the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (Ialpa) – part of trade union Fórsa – last week, the union said its members would be taking industrial action again on July 20th and 24th in a dispute over base transfers, promotions, leave and other issues.

Eddie Wilson, chief people officer at Ryanair, wrote to Fórsa national secretary Angela Kirk on Monday offering to meet on Tuesday morning.

However, the union said it told the company at the weekend that some of its members would not be available to meet at that time.

In his letter, Mr Wilson asked the union to postpone the “unnecessary” strike on Friday while a working group from the two sides works to resolve the row.

Fórsa told the company that it was prepared to meet on Wednesday or Thursday, and would only suspend its strike if there was positive movement on 11 issues it has tabled with the company.

‘More tangible’

Bernard Harbor, Fórsa’s spokesman, said it would take “something a lot more tangible” for the union to call off industrial action.

“We would need to some real progress or real engagement before we suspend our strike,” he said.

Mr Wilson also repeated Ryanair’s position that the terms sought by the union would not work for an airline with 87 international bases and plans to hire more than 1,000 pilots this year.

His letter says pilots are paid between €150,00 and €200,000 a year but the union maintains that pilots were well paid because they were highly qualified, and pointed out that many of them paid for their own training.

Mr Wilson said Ryanair will cancel 24 flights between Ireland and Britain if the strike goes ahead on Friday, six fewer than it had to cut when the pilots held their first ever strike at the airline last Thursday. The airline plans to operate more than 260 other services, including those to holiday destinations in countries such as Spain, Portugal and Italy, on Friday.

Self-employed

About 100 directly-employed pilots at Ryanair’s Irish bases are members of Ialpa. The remaining 250 are not in the union with many of them are classed as self-employed, which allowed the airline to operate the vast majority of its schedule during last Thursday’s strike. The airline cancelled services on frequently-flown routes, enabling it to offer alternatives to those affected.

Ryanair will offer to reaccommodate or refund passengers booked on the 24 cancelled flights. Most of those affected by cancellations last week chose alternatives. Ryanair will begin informing passengers today of its contingency plans if it expects the strike to go ahead.

Failed to settle

Both sides agreed at a meeting last week, which failed to avert Thursday’s strike, to establish a working group to tackle the problems. However, the sides failed to settle on terms of reference.

Mr Wilson noted that Ms Kirk wrote to the airline at the weekend agreeing to establish the working group. He suggests the pilots’ committee meets Ryanair chief operations officer Peter Bellew and executives Darrell Hughes and Bernard McSweeney, along with rostering and manpower managers.