Ryanair expects Irish-based pilots to strike at Easter

By Andrei Khalip and Miguel Pereira

Ryanair expects staff to strike during Easter week in Ireland or Portugal, chief executive Michael O‘Leary has said, as talks with some unions over formal recognition and improved conditions falter.

Mr O‘Leary earlier this month warned of possible disruption at Easter or the summer but did not specify what markets were likely to be hit.

He said at the time the airline would rather see bookings damaged by the uncertainty around a strike than give in to “laughable” union demands.

Ryanair averted widespread strikes ahead of Christmas by announcing plans to recognise pilots’ unions for the first time in its 32-year history.

However, talks with pilot unions to formalise union recognition and improved terms have stalled in recent weeks. While Ryanair says talks are ongoing in seven countries, only British union Balpa has signed a recognition agreement.

“We expect some adverse publicity and some disruptions,” Mr O‘Leary told a news conference in Lisbon.

“We had a strike in Germany on December 22. We expect the next one will be in Ireland, or maybe it will be in Portugal, during Easter week.”

No flights were cancelled during the December 22 four-hour strike. Irish pilot union Forsa/ Ialpa has not announced plans to strike, but says pilots had rejected an offered raise and that Ryanair was refusing the union’s demand to be recognised as the exclusive body for collective bargaining.

Portuguese cabin crew union, SNPVAC, has said it will decide this week when to strike, with a maximum of three days in late March and three days in early April, said union official Fernando Gandra.

The strike was motivated by “worsening labour conditions, a lack of respect for the dignity of the cabin crew ... and threats over sales objectives,” he said. Ryanair says it offers staff some of the best conditions in the sector.

Mr O‘Leary said he was making significant progress in talks with Portuguese pilots union Spac, but that management would only open talks with cabin crew after agreement had been reached with pilots.

- Reuters

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