Ryanair has proposed third-party mediation to resolve a deepening row about terms and conditions with Ireland-based pilots.
Pilots staged their fourth one-day strike on Friday, with their union, Forsa, scheduling another for Friday August 10, the same day as similar strikes by Ryanair pilots in Belgium and Sweden.
It will be the fifth strike by pilots since July 12.
Fórsa said Ryanair's acceptance of third party assistance is positive.
"Ryanair’s announcement that it will accept independent third-party assistance in its dispute with pilots, which was made without preconditions, is an unexpected and positive development," the union said in a statement.
Ryanair said this afternoon that 25% of their Irish pilots would be striking next week.
20 flights have been cancelled, out of a planned 300 to and from Ireland.
3,500 passengers will be affected, and Ryanair says they have been informed of the cancellations.
Around 30 pilots and their supporters picketed the airline’s headquarters at Swords in Dublin on Friday with placards and banners.
The airline has blamed pilots from rival airline Aer Lingus who, it says, are using the strike to their advantage to cause the maximum damage to Ryanair.The airline said in a statement: “It is quite clear that this agenda is being driven by, amongst others, an Aer Lingus pilot, Captain Evan Cullen, who appears to be controlling the Forsa agenda.”
Ryanair’s chief people officer, Eddie Wilson, said: “Given the non-engagement by Forsa, and the manipulation of the discussions by certain Aer Lingus pilots to ensure that no meetings take place, that unsuccessful strikes keep repeating, Ryanair now feels the only way to introduce common sense is by way of third party mediation, and is suggesting Mr Kieran Mulvey, formerly of the Labour Commission and Workplace Relations Commission.
“We now call on Forsa to accept Mr Mulvey as a third party mediator, an initiative Forsa have repeatedly called for in recent weeks.”
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Transport, Tourism and Sport Robert Troy TD encouraged unions and management at Ryanair to work with a third party mediator to help resolve the ongoing industrial action at the company.
Mr Troy said: “Today’s indication that management at Ryanair are open to the prospect of working with a third party independent mediator to help resolve this dispute is a positive development.
"Unions have already stated that they would work with a third party facilitator. Both sides should now seize the opportunity to work with an independent mediator to help resolve this dispute successfully," he said.
Last month, the budget airline criticised the strikes as unnecessary and warned that, if they continue, there could be job losses.
Forsa said the striking workers continue to seek a “fair and transparent” way of governing base transfers and related matters which they say is common practice in the industry.
In a statement on Thursday it said: “For over a month, the union has said that industrial action is likely to continue until there is substantial movement on the pilots’ reasonable demands for an agreement on a fair and transparent approach to base transfers and related matters.
“The airline’s escalation of the dispute when it threatened to sack 100 pilots and 200 cabin crew, or transfer them to Poland, led to a predictable hardening of resolve among its staff.
“Company management met the union the day before the first one-day strike, and two days before the second one-day strike (on July 18). It then changed its position and said it would not negotiate while strike action was planned.”
The union said two weeks have passed since its last meeting with management and warned that a resolution to the dispute cannot be reached if the airline has “pre-conditions”.
The union added: “On a number of occasions in recent weeks and months, there have been suggestions that third-party facilitation could assist in reaching consensus on issues of disagreement.
“Forsa has today repeated to the company that it is willing to explore this option.”
The airline said the latest action had no effect since all 3,500 customers (of the 430,000 travelling with Ryanair on Friday) were re-accommodated or refunded last weekend.
- Press Association