Pilots union is ‘sitting on its hands’ while passengers disrupted, Ryanair says

By Stephen Rogers
Irish Examiner Reporter

Ryanair has accused a pilots union of “sitting on its hands” for more than two days while thousands of passengers have their holiday plans disrupted.

As the airline’s directly-employed pilots, members of Fórsa trade union, yesterday picketed outside the airline’s offices in Swords in a second one-day stoppage, Ryanair was making contingency arrangements for a third stoppage on Tuesday.

The airline has cancelled 16 of its 290 flights scheduled for that day. It said all 2,500 passengers who will be affected have been contacted and will be “readily re-accommodated [or refunded] on other Ryanair flights between Ire-UK routes over the next seven days”.

The company said the directly-employed pilots causing the cancellations were earning between €150,000-€200,000 and criticised Fórsa for not answering its call to call off the strike “by a small minority 25% of our Irish pilots”.

“It is disgraceful that Fórsa sits on its hands for over two days — without any communication since Wednesday — while thousands of Irish customers and their families have their holiday plans disrupted,” the airline tweeted.

Earlier, Forsa’s communications director Bernard Harbor again called for the intervention of a third party in the dispute.

The sides had brief talks but little in the way of genuine progress had been made on the substantive issues.

In relation to one of the key issues — the methodology for transfer of pilots — Mr Harbor said there had been some common ground found in the short talks the union had with management in that Ryanair accepted an agreement should be in place.

“But they have been very reluctant to move off the system they already have,” said Mr Harbor. “There is a bit of ‘we have always done it this way’ coming across the table.

“We have suggested to the company that the involvement of a third party, an independent broker in the talks would be useful, would help both sides to move forward and would help build trust between two parties who, for 30 years, have not sat around a negotiating table.”

He told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland: “We think the measures could be taken to move this along. At the moment, we have had a very small number of hours in negotiations and we really need to get under the bonnet of the issues.”

Ryanair is also preparing for two other days of strikes next week, this time by cabin crew in Portugal, Spain, and Belgium which has forced the airline to cancel 600 flights, affecting up to 50,000 people each day.

There was a small bit of good news for management yesterday as it confirmed the signature of a recognition agreement with the Italian union FIT CISL, which will now join ANPAC and ANPAV as a joint negotiating body for directly employed cabin crew in Italy.

“Following yesterday’s announcement yesterday of a cabin crew recognition agreement with Ver.di in Germany, Ryanair is now commencing negotiations on Collective Labour Agreements for over 66% of its people in its major markets of Italy, the UK, and Germany,” the airline said.

This story originally appeared in the Irish Examiner

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