Ryanair strikes threaten to spoil holidays

Holiday-goers are facing a summer of potential travel chaos as Ryanair cabin crew will today warn that they could join pilots in strike action, which could ground hundreds of flights.

Irish Ryanair pilots who are members of the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (IALPA), yesterday voted overwhelmingly in favour of a 24-hour strike which will start at 1am on Thursday, July 12.

Ryanair has denounced the move as “unnecessary”, and said they will be in touch with affected customers next Tuesday if the strike goes ahead.

Today, Ryanair cabin crew from across Europe and North Africa will hold a press conference in which it will announce a list of demands they expect the company to remedy, or face further industrial action.

Irish travel agents have pleaded with both sides to come to a resolution, warning that a strike will cause ‘major distress’ to holidaymakers.

IALPA, a branch of the Fórsa trade union, said the pilots’ strike action — passed by a 99% majority at the ballot — has been prompted by Ryanair management’s approach to governing base transfers and other arrangements.

It claimed that union requests for talks on the issue “had been met with a threat to move Dublin-based aircraft and pilots to other airports and cut promotion opportunities”.

“The union is seeking a seniority agreement to provide our member pilots directly employed by Ryanair with a fair and transparent mechanism to understand how and why they are in the base they are in, the order in which their turn may come up for a transfer, how and why they received a particular annual leave allocation, or any other decisions that should take due account of their length of service and seniority in the company,” the union said.

Ryanair said those who voted for strike action make up 100 of their 4,000-strong roster of pilots, and that Ireland accounts for less than 7% of the airline’s flights.

“Ryanair is disappointed by this strike notice which is unnecessary, given that it has already forwarded to Fórsa draft proposals on recognition, base transfers, a seniority list for all Irish pilots and a new annual leave system based on seniority,” the airline claimed.

“Ryanair has invited Fórsa to meet and discuss these proposals on 18 separate occasions, but Fórsa have failed to reply or take up any of these invitations to meet.”

The airline said it issued a 19th offer to meet with Fórsa on Wednesday, July 11.

Pat Dawson, CEO of the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) said a strike will disrupt travellers who have booked accommodation and made connecting travel plans, and will lead to additional costs to customers.

“The ITAA is calling on Ryanair and its pilots to resolve these internal issues and end this proposed strike action,” he said. 

“Passengers have already seen severe disruptions in the past number of weeks with the French Air Traffic Control strike and we hope that management will do everything possible to avoid any more interference with holiday plans.

“We would also ask that Ryanair keep customers up to date with any planned cancellations as soon as possible to ease the uncertainty faced by intending travellers and allow for alternative holiday arrangements to be made.”

Meanwhile, Ryanair’s cabin crew staff, members of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITWF), will today reveal a charter of demands that it expects Ryanair to address.

The ITWF say pay, “draconian disciplinary procedures, unachievable sales targets, and staff having to pay for items that most decent employers provide” are among their grievances.

Ryanair said strike action by air traffic controllers (ATC) saw over 210,000 customers have their flights cancelled last month alone.

It said four weekends of strikes and “repeated UK, German, and French ATC staff shortages” caused over 1,100 flight cancellations in the month of June.

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