An Irish union representing Ryanair pilots has pledged to go ahead with a strike planned for July 12 over concerns about base transfers and pilot seniority agreements, even after the airline appealed for it to be called off.
Ninety-nine percent of directly employed Ryanair pilots who are members of the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association, a branch of the FORSA trade union, voted in favor of industrial action in a dispute over management’s approach to transferring pilots between its European and African bases. Plans call for the 24-hour strike to begin at 0100 July 12.
The union sent a letter to Ryanair on July 5 in response to its appeal to call off the strike, saying: “At every stage we have consulted our members and they took the decision to proceed with the ballot and serve notice because they have seen no evidence whatsoever on the part of Ryanair management to engage in meaningful negotiations with a view to reaching agreement on the issues they have presented to the company.”
It went on: “As indicated in numerous previous letters, we are, and have always been, willing to meet you (subject to rostered duties) to discuss the issues, but the notice of industrial action stands and it is the position of IALPA/FORSA that the 24-hour stoppage will only be averted if agreement is reached on the 11 minimum requirements in a seniority agreement.”
It added: “We have consistently suggested a neutral venue, which we will pay for and it is beyond anyone’s understanding why you will not simply agree to this. It is yet another example of a Ryanair view, which is “it’s either our way or no way.”
Irish LCC Ryanair, which only began recognizing unions late last year after a flight cancellations crisis threw its tense relations with its workforce into the spotlight and forced it to change its stance, said it had already offered to meet the union.
“Ryanair has written to FORSA asking them to call off next week’s strike, since they already have our proposals on base transfers and a seniority list, and have been invited to meet Ryanair to discuss them,” the LCC said in a statement posted on Twitter July 4. “FORSA has no reason to unnecessarily disrupt our customers’ flights next Thursday. Why won’t FORSA meet us when every other union already has?”
The union wants an agreement that would govern base transfer arrangements and related matters, saying on July 3: “Our member pilots directly employed by Ryanair complain that there is no transparent system for the determination of important matters” including “voluntary/involuntary base transfer/allocation, command upgrade, allocation of annual leave and promotion. When a pilot receives notice of a mandatory base change, or is denied a request for a change of base, such management decisions can have a devastating effect on family life.”
The union is seeking a seniority agreement, which it said would provide member pilots directly employed by Ryanair with “a fair and transparent mechanism to understand how and why they are in the base they are in, the order in which their turn may come up for a transfer, how and why they received a particular annual leave allocation, or any other decisions that should take due account of their length of service and seniority in the company.”
The union has advised Ryanair that it will notify the airline of additional strike days in due course.