SIPTU to ballot member sacked by Ryanair


SIPTU is to hold a ballot today of its one and only member in Ryanair, who has been dismissed by the company. If, as expected the member votes for industrial action, then the national executive of SIPTU will meet to decide whether to endorse the ballot result and will probably serve strike notice on the airline.

It is almost certain that SIPTU will sanction a strike, because the dispute arises from a refusal by the company to accept a Labour Court recommendation to reinstate the dismissed employee, Mr Ray Healy, a baggage handler. On such an issue SIPTU can also expect a sympathetic hearing from other trade unions if it applies to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions subsequently for an all out picket.

Ryanair, which allows its employees to be members of trade unions but not to be represented by them, insists that it is not an anti union firm. "We don't have policies with a capital P," a spokesman said. "We don't have a policy on union recognition. We are just trying to manage this place on a day to day basis in a way that encourages employees to regard the company as acting in their best interests."

The company says that Mr Healy could have gone to the Employment Appeals Tribunal over his dismissal. If he had won there, then the decision would have been binding on the company. Instead, he had opted for non binding arbitration in the Labour Court.

In fact Mr Healy had not been with Ryanair long enough to take his case to the Employment Appeals Tribunal.

The Labour Court found in Mr Healy's favour last December, but when it recommended to Ryanair that Mr Healy be reinstated on a probationary basis, the company says it "respectfully informed" the court that it was not complying with its recommendation.

Mr Healy was dismissed when he returned to work after four days' leave.

Ryanair told the Labour Court that Mr Healy was a temporary employee of eight months' standing and there had been previous problems with his work performance. He failed to understand he was not a member of the management team and he repeatedly changed arrangements that were none of his concern.

The court however, having heard all the evidence, decided that Mr Healy had been unfairly treated and that the company had failed to implement its own disciplinary procedures. It recommended that Mr Healy be reemployed on probation for three months, after which his permanent employment should be considered.

A SIPTU officer, Mr Des Hughes, says the union has repeatedly tried to raise the matter with Ryanair but the company has not responded. The company negotiates all issues on an informal basis.