Ryanair has lost a High Court bid in England to block strike action by its UK pilots – hours after winning a similar legal move in Dublin.
A judge sitting in London today rejected an urgent application by the airline for an injunction against the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa).
The decision by Mrs Justice Lambert came after Ryanair succeeded at the High Court in Dublin earlier today in its bid to prevent pilots based in Ireland from going on a 48-hour strike from midnight on Thursday.
The airline sought an urgent injunction from the judge in London just hours before the start of threatened industrial action by members of Balpa in a dispute over pay and conditions.
After hearing submissions from Ryanair and Balpa, the judge dismissed the various grounds raised by the airline.
Strike action by UK Ryanair pilots is due to take place on Thursday and Friday this week, with a second round of dates in September.
Paul Gott QC, for Ryanair, told Mrs Justice Lambert during the hearing that strike action could be “enormously disruptive”, and Ryanair would suffer “significant reputational” damage.
Mr Gott submitted that Balpa had not conducted a ballot which complied with the requirements of labour relations legislation.
But Andrew Burns QC, representing Balpa, accused Ryanair of raising “trivial and immaterial technicalities”, and argued that it was “readily apparent” that the union had “substantially complied” with legislative obligations.
After Mrs Justice Lambert’s ruling, Balpa said she had rejected Ryanair’s “various technical and legal arguments”, and agreed that the union’s industrial action ballot and procedures were lawful, “and so the strike can proceed”.
Balpa said it has responded to the legal victory “by offering an olive branch to Ryanair – a framework to allow constructive negotiations to take place and if agreed by Ryanair will avoid the need for strikes”.
Brian Strutton, the union’s general secretary, said: “Ryanair was foolish to bring this into the High Court rather than the negotiating room.
“We offered to meet Ryanair management at Acas to negotiate a resolution, but instead they attempted a legal bludgeon. That’s backfired."
“However, we are clear that we want to settle the dispute and bring about a change in Ryanair for the better.
“Pilots in Ryanair are seeking the same kind of policies and agreements that exist in other airlines – our demands are not unreasonable. We want to address issues like pensions; loss of licence insurance; maternity benefits; allowances; and harmonise pay across the UK in a fair, transparent, and consistent structure.
“We hope that Ryanair will take up our offer of a way forward this evening so we can call off this action. We urge Ryanair to change their attitude to dealing with us, and adopt a constructive approach.
“In the event that Ryanair rejects our overture and therefore the action over the next two days does go ahead, we apologise to the passengers who will be affected. Such action could have been avoided if Ryanair adopts a different approach.”