Ryanair offers to meet pilot union before planned strike

Impact had said the action would go ahead unless the airline met them beforehand

Ryanair has offered to meet Impact on Tuesday, a day before Wednesday's planned strike by its pilot members.

Earlier on Saturday, Impact said the strike by some Ryanair pilots would go ahead unless the airline’s management meets union representatives beforehand.

The comments came despite Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary’s pledge that the company would enter talks with pilots on union recognition.

In a statement on Saturday afternoon, Ryanair said: “Ryanair today confirmed that the German pilot union and Impact/IALPA (The Irish Airline Pilots’ Association) have agreed to Ryanair’s offer of meetings to agree union recognition on Wednesday, December 20th. Ryanair has also offered to meet Impact/IALPA and their Ryanair pilot committee on Tuesday, December 19th, if that would suit them better.

“The Portuguese pilot union has requested a meeting next week and Ryanair has offered to meet them on Thursday, December 21st. The British and Italian pilots’ unions have agreed to meet with Ryanair in early January.

“Ryanair has again called on Impact/ IALPA to cancel the threatened industrial action on Wednesday, December 20th (as the Italian and German unions have already done), which is causing unnecessary concern and worry for thousands of Ryanair customers travelling home during Christmas week.”

Up to 117 members of the IALPA – part of Impact – working for Ryanair are set to take part in the planned action on Wednesday.

Mr O’Leary’s move to recognise unions was a sharp U-turn for the airline, given its policy of not dealing with labour groups.

Ryanair had written to pilots’ unions offering to begin talks on recognition in a bid to avert strikes at Irish and European bases.

However, the airline had said it could not meet the unions before Wednesday. A spokesman for Ryanair said on Saturday morning there was no update on this position.

Impact trade union spokesman Bernard Harbor said the union wanted to meet before Wednesday to confirm the airline was committed to engaging with staff and to outline how the recognition of unions would work.

“We are ready to meet them today [Saturday] or tomorrow if necessary and we want to have that meeting just to make sure that there is substance to the offer they made in writing and to flesh out how that recognition process would proceed.

"Once we have that we're ready to lift the industrial action, but we need to do that first," he told RTÉ Radio One on Saturday.

“Given the seriousness of the situation I think it would be good if they could move their diaries around and find availability,” he said.

As a result of this impasse, Impact said it was not withdrawing notice of a 24-hour pilots’ strike at Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports next Wednesday, December 20th.

No details have been provided by the airline of how many, or which, flights are likely to be affected.

Cabin Crew

It has also emerged that 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.

Liz Blackshaw, International Transport Workers' Federation campaigns director, confirmed on Friday 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 about 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 about 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 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.

Ryanair said Impact had 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.