An "historic" recognition deal has been agreed between Ryanair and a British trade union representing pilots.
The British Airline Pilots' Association (Balpa) said it had signed a voluntary trade union recognition agreement, with its reps involved in future negotiations on pay, hours, rostering and holidays.
Balpa said the move followed Ryanair's announcement before Christmas that it was changing its stance towards unions and was willing to enter into discussions about recognising pilots' unions in a number of European countries, including the UK.
Under the agreement, Balpa will be recognised as the sole trade union representing all of Ryanair's 600 employed pilots based in the UK.
Welcoming today’s recognition agreement, Ryanair’s chief people officer Eddie Wilson said: “Welcoming this UK recognition agreement, we are pleased today to announce this UK recognition agreement with BALPA on behalf of our directly employed pilots in the UK.
"The UK accounts for 25% of Ryanair’s fleet and pilot numbers. This agreement validates the decision of Ryanair’s Board in December to recognise unions, and the fact that we have delivered pay rises of up to 20% and union recognition for our pilots in our largest market, shows how serious Ryanair is about working constructively with unions that are willing to work constructively with us.
"This rapid progress in the UK is in marked contrast to some other EU countries where we are still waiting for a response to our recognition proposals and where some unions have failed to put these substantial pay increases to our pilots.
"We now call on these unions to stop wasting time and act quickly to deliver 20% pay increases to our pilots in February, and conclude formal recognition agreements, which they are presently sitting on. Ryanair will not allow these unions to delay pay increases to our pilots.
"In Dublin for example, where just 35% of our pilots have not yet received this pay increase, we have warned FÓRSA/IALPA that we will offer it to these pilots individually if they refuse/fail to organise a vote among just 35% of our Dublin pilots on this pay increase on/before 31 Jan.
"Today’s agreement between Ryanair and BALPA shows that Ryanair can work with unions that wish to work with us to promote the interests of both our pilots and our customers.”
Balpa general secretary Brian Strutton said: "Given Ryanair's previous hostility towards unions, today's agreement is an historic one.
"While we were initially sceptical about Ryanair's sincerity in offering recognition to us and other unions, our conversations and meetings with them have shown that they are genuine in wanting a constructive trade union relationship.
"Balpa will be opening our election for five Ryanair Company Council representatives to be chosen from amongst the Balpa members employed by Ryanair.
"These reps will lead future negotiations on issues such as pay, hours, rostering and holidays on behalf of all our Ryanair members.
"We will also be opening an election for an advisory group for Ryanair contractor pilots who are not employed directly by the company.
"I am hopeful that this is the beginning of a strong and mutually beneficial relationship between Balpa and Ryanair and I urge Ryanair to agree deals with pilot unions in other countries and with cabin crew unions."
- PA and Digital desk