Ryanair faces flight chaos if pilots 'work to rule'

Ryanair passengers could face further disruptions as pilots flex their muscles and demand better working conditions, write Joyce Fegan and Stephen Rogers.

Last Friday, the airline announced it was cancelling up to 50 flights a day for the next six weeks as pilots had been over-rostered, and on Monday, it offered its pilots up to €12,000 to buy back their leave.

However, Ryanair’s Employee Representative Councils (ERCs), representing 17 of their bases across Europe, responded last night, saying that the majority of their colleagues had rejected the proposals.

Then in separate correspondence, a draft letter signed by Ryanair pilots also rejecting the offer and warning they will “work to rule”, was circulated at the airline’s bases around Europe.

“We would like to advise that with immediate effect, the pilot workforce at the bases [airports] listed below rescind the goodwill that has been extended toward the company for many years, including working days off and turning up early. In short, we shall now ‘work to rule,” read the draft letter.

An Irish source told the Irish Examiner that meetings had been held “at all bases” and that there was “a lot of unrest” among pilots.

The airline does not permit unions but uses the ERCs for staff issues to be addressed.

The ERCs are taking advantage of the pilot shortage, which has led to the cancellation of 103,000 flights, to leverage for better conditions.

In their memo to management yesterday, they said their “counteroffer” was aimed at addressing operational problems and at creating a better future.

They are looking for permanent local contracts for all employees in accordance with national law and rights.

In the counteroffer, the ERCs also suggested that if benchmarking was introduced, in line with competitors, it would help reduce the large number of pilots who leave Ryanair for “greener pastures”.

It is estimated that 140 Ryanair pilots have defected to Norwegian Airlines, and Aer Lingus is set to start a recruitment drive in the coming weeks.

The point was also made that the pilots were not trained as negotiators and so they will be bringing “professional assistance” to any potential negotiations.

The memo from the ERCs said that pilots were anticipating a reply by tomorrow.

It was not possible to receive a comment from Ryanair on last night’s developments, however, the airline did issue an update on flight cancellations at approximately 2pm yesterday.

“We have taken on extra customer service teams to speed up the rate at which we accommodate and action alternative flight requests or refund applications.

“We expect to have the vast majority of these completed by the end of this week,” read the statement.

Ryanair’s AGM takes place today.

This article first appeared on the Irish Examiner.


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