Latest: Ryanair slam strike action just before Christmas by 'small group' of pilots

Update - 3.15pm: Ryanair has confirmed that they have received notice this afternoon from the pilots union IALPA of a 24-hour strike “by pilots directly employed by Ryanair” on Wednesday, December 20, 2017.

79 out of 82 of Ryanair's direct employee pilots based in Dublin voted for industrial action yesterday in a row over collective bargaining and negotiating rights.

The ballot is said to have covered direct employees only, of which there are 84 and most of whom are captains, without whom planes cannot fly.

Staff employed through agencies, individual companies ar as contractor pilots were not covered in the ballot by the Irish Air Line Pilots Association - which is affiliated to IMPACT.

The airline said in their statement headlined "Ryanair to face down IALPA threatened strike" they "welcome" the notice which, they say, "conclusively proves that it is about union recognition for the Aer Lingus pilots union IALPA and not about pay and conditions for Ryanair pilots."

The company went on to say that pilots in Dublin can earn between €150,000 to €190,000 per annum for working a 5on/4off roster, and have been offered a 20% pay increase. They said this comes "at a time when IALPA are recommending a 3% increase to Aer Lingus pilots".

Ryanair have "apologised sincerely to customers for any upset or worry" from the threatened industrial action and they said they "will deal with any such disruptions if, or when they arise" from the action threatened "by less than 28% of our Dublin pilots may cause them over the coming days".

The airline said: "Ryanair is surprised that IALPA has threatened to disrupt Christmas week travel when IALPA’s own numbers confirm that it has the support of less than 28% of Ryanair’s over 300 Dublin pilots and when Ryanair’s Belfast, Cork and Shannon bases have already agreed these 20% pay deals.

"While some disruption may occur, Ryanair believes this will largely be confined to a small group of pilots who are working their notice and will shortly leave Ryanair, so they don’t care how much upset they cause colleagues or customers.

"Ryanair has already confirmed that any Dublin pilots who participate in this industrial action will be in breach of the Dublin pilots base agreement and they will lose those agreed benefits which arise from dealing directly with Ryanair, including the 5on/4off rosters, certain pay benefits and promotion opportunities until such time as they chose to return to the 25-year established practice of dealing directly with Ryanair.

"Like any group of workers, Ryanair’s very well paid pilots are free to join unions, but like every other multi-national, Ryanair is also free - under both Irish & EU law - to decline to engage with (competitor pilot) unions.

"Ryanair will not recognise an Aer Lingus pilot union, no matter how often or how long this tiny minority (earning between €150,000 to €190,000 p.a.) try to disrupt our flights or our customers plans during Christmas week."

The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) has expressed its concern at today’s announcement.

Cormac Meehan, President of the ITAA, said: "The timing of this strike, just five days before Christmas, is very unsettling and worrying for those planning to travel over the holiday season.

"We are calling on Ryanair to engage with IALPA and do their very best to stop this industrial action taking place. We would also ask that they keep customers up to date with any planned cancellations as soon as possible to ease the uncertainty faced by intending travellers and so that alternative holiday arrangements can be made.”

Mr Meehan advised anyone intending to travel with Ryanair to contact their travel agent for further advice and to check CAR’s website, for updates on entitlements.

Earlier: Ryanair pilots confirm one-day strike on December 20:

Irish-based Ryanair pilots have served company management with notice of a one-day strike on Wednesday December 20.

Directly-employed pilots, mostly captains, will withdraw their labour in an action that IMPACT says will either disrupt flights or generate substantial costs to the airline.

The pilots backed industrial action by a margin of 94% to 6% in secret ballots conducted over the last week.

The dispute is over Ryanair management’s refusal to enter direct negotiations with the European Employee Representative Council (EERC) or IALPA as the sole independent representative body for pilots working in the company.

The airline has so far refused to recognise the EERC or IALPA, and insists that any discussion of pay and working conditions be conducted through management-controlled “employee representative councils.”

The union has warned of further strike days if agreement is not reached.

Although the number of employees involved in the strike is fewer than the total number of Irish-based Ryanair pilots, the action will have impact because planes cannot legally or safely fly without a captain.

IMPACT official Ashley Connolly said Ryanair was the only Irish-based airline that refuses to recognise independent pilot representatives.

“This dispute is solely about winning independent representation for pilots in the company.

"Management’s failed negotiating model has let down shareholders and tens of thousands of passengers, whose flights were cancelled this year because company-controlled industrial relations proved incapable of recruiting and retaining enough pilots.

“The failed policy threatens to further disappoint shareholders and passengers, and further damage the airline’s reputation, because experienced pilots continue to leave the airline in droves.

" This dispute is about securing a safe space for negotiations, with independent representation that pilots can have confidence in,” she said.

The union has made repeated attempts to open discussions with airline management in recent months.

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