Some Ryanair pilots vote to join strike action; Fears of travel chaos dismissed

Some Ryanair pilots vote to join strike action; Fears of travel chaos dismissed

Some of Ryanair's Irish pilots have voted to join their British counterparts and participate in industrial action later this month over pay and working conditions.

It comes just days after members of the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) voted to strike on two days later this month.

Members of the Irish Air Line Pilots' Association (IALPA), which is a branch of the Fórsa trade union, voted by 94% to back industrial action. Some 180 directly-employed Ryanair pilots based in Ireland, who are members of the union, were eligible to vote in the ballot.

The union, which is required to give at least one week’s strike notice, said it would write to management early next week to outline plans for action unless the airline agrees to union pay proposals by Monday.

If the industrial action goes ahead, it is likely to be coordinated with the planned strike in Britain in order to cause maximum impact to Ryanair's ability to operate.

The union submitted a pay claim to the company in late March 2019, seeking pay levels and structures that are in line with sector norms. It claims that the airline, which posted profits of €1bn last year, is in a healthy financial position and can fairly reward its pilots.

Fórsa assistant general secretary, Ian McDonnell, said industrial action could be avoided if management at the airline engaged professionally and constructively in talks.

“At this stage, only a substantive counter-proposal, which properly addresses all areas of our claim, will be enough to prevent us serving notice of industrial action next week."

However, Ryanair said that while it is "disappointed" by the result, the ballot has the support of less than 25% of Irish pilots as less than half of its pilots are members of IALPA and less than 60% of these pilots participated in the ballot.

The airline also said that, since the summer of 2018, it has engaged in a mediation process with the union under Kieran Mulvey which has delivered collective agreements on promotions, transfers, seniority and most recently, a pay increase of up to 20% for those Irish pilots.

"Fórsa are still unable to explain what pay increase they are seeking on top of the 20% increase already agreed, at a time when Ryanair pilots resignations have dwindled to zero because Ryanair pilots are better paid than 737 competitors in Norwegian and Jet2," said a statement.

Editor of Travel Extra, Eoghan Corry, feels that the planned strike will not cause travel chaos for holidaymakers but could impact advance bookings.

"Ryanair has the ability to fly through this as only about a third if its Irish pilots are members of the union. The IALPA action over three days last year had no impact really and stopped just eight of the 130 flights that leave Dublin every day."

"The plan would be to co-ordinate with the BALPA strike to make more of an impact but I still think Ryanair still has the ability to fly through this. My advice is that people should not change their travel plans. This will either be solved through negotiation or Ryanair will just fly through it," he said.

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