Q&A on Ryanair and unions: 60% of pilots are on non-typical contracts

Joyce Fegan answers the latest questions on Ryanair.

CEO Michael O'Leary at the Ryanair AGM.

How are Ryanair pilots employed?

According to an EU-funded report in 2015, 34% of pilots flying for the airline have direct employment contracts. A further 27% reported as being self-employed, 18% said they worked via another company and 10% said they came through a temporary work agency.

What do these contracts mean when it comes to employee rights and trade unions?

With more than 60% of pilots being on non-typical contracts, this means that they can only take industrial action against their direct employer.

Are Ryanair pilots members of any union-type bodies?

A landmark Supreme Court ruling in 2007, in favour of Ryanair, saw the airline refuse to co-operate with the Labour Court. Ryanair said it had its own employee representative councils (ERCs). The ruling undermined unions’ ability to have a foothold in private sector companies.

Do ERCs have any bargaining power?

ERCs are in-house committees where staff can have issues addressed.

What about the Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association (IALPA)?

While IALPA is a branch of the trade union Impact, it only represents a number of Ryanair pilots.

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