Transnational pilot group offers Ryanair solution to industrial unrest

Airline rejects proposal and denies it has ‘transnational’ issues’ in operations

Ryanair pilots: Ryanair Transnational Pilot Group has tabled  a “way to de-escalate the current conflict” between the airline and its pilots. Photograph: Laura Hutton/Collins

Ryanair pilots: Ryanair Transnational Pilot Group has tabled a “way to de-escalate the current conflict” between the airline and its pilots. Photograph: Laura Hutton/Collins

 

A group backed by European pilot unions has written to Ryanair proposing a way out of the industrial relations turbulence in which the airline found itself this summer.

Ryanair pilots in five countries, including the Republic, recently staged simultaneous one-day strikes in pursuit of pay increases, contractual changes and direct employment over agency work, among other things.

The trade union-backed Ryanair Transnational Pilot Group (RTPG) wrote on Thursday to the airline’s chief operating officer, Peter Bellew, and its chief people officer, Eddie Wilson, proposing a “way to de-escalate the current conflict” between Ryanair and its pilots.

The letter signed by Enda Ryan, RTPG president, and Dirk Polloczek, head of pilot union umbrella body the European Cockpit Association (ECA), argues that several of the issues are transnational and common to all pilots in Ryanair.

The RTPG wants Ryanair to offer direct employment to pilots working as contractors or through agencies, if they wish. A proportion of those flying for the airline are not directly employed.

The group asks that pilots get contracts of employment governed by the laws of the countries in which they are based rather than Irish law. The airline uses contracts issued in the Republic as the carrier and its aircraft are registered here.

Collective labour agreements

During this month’s strikes, a number of unions, including Germany’s Vereinigung Cockpit and the Dutch Airline Pilots’ Association, highlighted this issue. The group is also seeking collective labour agreements that comply with each country’s laws.

The RTPG wants Ryanair to introduce a “master seniority agreement” which would govern how pilots are transferred between bases, promotions and annual leave.

This was central to the dispute between Ryanair and about 100 members of the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association, which sparked five one-day strikes in the Republic in July and August.

Mr Ryan and Mr Polloczek request a meeting with Mr Bellew and Mr Wilson in Brussels or Dublin. They state that the groups unified under the RTPG have a “strong desire” to find acceptable solutions to the dispute.

“However, there is also a determination to use all means at our disposal to resist the continuation of Ryanair management to reject our reasonable expectations for a consistent workplace across the company and proposals to achieve that objective,” they warn.

Ryanair dismissed the letter as meaningless. “Since the ECA (and the RTPG) is a lobby group (led by a Lufthansa captain) of competitor airline pilots, it has no legal status or role in Ryanair,” the company said.

“Like all other EU airlines, we negotiate with pilots and their unions on national issues on a country by country basis,” it added.

“There are no ‘transnational’ issues and we will not be meeting with any of these lobby groups.”