Strike may go ahead unless Ryanair meets pilots
Strikes for next week not yet called off, despite airline agreeing to recognise unions
Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said the airline would jettison its policy of refusing to recognise labour groups. Photograph: Eric Luke
Ryanair passengers still face possible disruption next week as the airline’s pledge to recognise trade unions drew mixed reactions from pilots’ groups threatening to strike.
Pilots’ unions in the Republic and Germany stopped short of calling off strikes at Ryanair after its chief executive, Michael O’Leary, said the airline would jettison its policy of refusing to recognise labour groups.
Up to 117 members of the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (Ialpa) – part of trade union Impact - still planned to go ahead with a strike at Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports on Wednesday December 20th, unless the airline agreed to meet ahead of that date.
Ryanair announced its dramatic U-turn on unions to avert industrial action next week. The airline 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. The union wants Ryanair to propose dates to begin talks next week.
VC counts more than half the 390 Ryanair pilots based in Germany as members. They intend striking at some point between now and December 23rd and are obliged to give the airline just 24 hours notice.
Italian union Anpac called off a four-hour stoppage scheduled for yesterday and has agreed to meet Ryanair.
Brian Strutton, general secretary of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa), said it had accepted Ryanair’s offer.
“We take Ryanair at their word that they are willing to enter into discussions with a view to recognising Balpa as more than 20 other UK-based airlines have,” he said.
Impact spokesman Niall Shanahan confirmed that Ryanair had told the union that the company could not meet before Wednesday, the day Ialpa members are due to strike.
He insisted that it was normal for the two sides in a dispute to meet before threatened strike action is withdrawn.
“Unless and until that happens, I do not see industrial action being suspended,” he added. Mr Shanahan said that Impact would be available to meet Ryanair at any time over the weekend.
It is understood that union official Angela Kirk and Ryanair chief people officer Eddie Wilson spoke after Impact received the airline’s letter offering to meet to discuss recognition. There were no talks beyond that initial contact.
Meanwhile, it emerged that cabin crew at the airline plan to seek recognition alongside pilots. Mr Wilson indicated yesterday that Ryanair could agree to this also.