Ryanair has warned that even more of its staff will lose their jobs in addition to the more than 300 issued with protective notice if its pilots continue with their campaign of strikes.
Yesterday morning, the company said its board had approved a plan to cut its Dublin-based fleet from 30 “to at most 24” for the winter season.
More than 100 pilots and 200 cabin crew were sent letters of 90 days’ protective notice telling them their services “may not be required from October 28 onwards”.
The airline said the reductions were driven by the growth of its Polish charter airline “allied to a downturn in forward bookings and airfares in Ireland partly as a result of recent rolling strikes by Irish pilots, which has had a negative effect on [close-in] high-fare bookings and forward airfares as consumer confidence in the reliability of our Irish flight schedules has been disturbed”.
The company said it was beginning consultations with staff on redundancy and, if necessary, the job losses would be determined by management’s assessment of flight performance, productivity, attendances, and base transfer requests.
Fórsa, which represents the 100 directly employed pilots who have been striking, responded by announcing a fourth day of stoppages on Friday, August 3.
It warned that further strikes will follow later in the month unless the airline’s management changed tack and negotiated in good faith on the issue of base transfers and related matters.
There has been almost a stoppage per week in the last three weeks and the rate of stoppages could be equal to that, if not exceed it, in August.
In its response to that threat, the airline last night said the union had rejected its offer of a briefing on the planned cutbacks.
FORSA has rejected our offer to meet today to brief them on the planned aircraft (6) and job (300) cuts in Dublin from October: pic.twitter.com/IxEk83Lmm8— Ryanair (@Ryanair) July 25, 2018
It said that the August 3 strike would only see 20 of its 290 Irish flights cancelled. In the previous three strikes, it has kept the cancellations to Ireland-UK flights to avoid too much disruption to holidaymakers.
The airline added: “We have told Fórsa that there will be no more meetings while they hold strikes.
“If they wish to meet after next Friday’s strike, then we will do here at our offices, but not if more strikes are called.”
Fórsa described the company’s moves as “provocative, reckless and unnecessary” and said it was only likely to increase the pilots’ resolve.
However, the company responded by saying: “We cannot rule out the possibility of even more aircraft (and more jobs) being cut in Ireland if our Irish business suffers further damage as a result of Fórsa’s “reckless and unnecessary” fourth strike.”
The union said there was more than a week until its next action yet the company was unwilling to meet in that time.
It said by the date of next strike, there would have been more than a fortnight since the sides last met face to face on June 18. A spokesman said the union was reading the company’s actions as confirmation it did not want to negotiate a solution.
The union also said what Ryanair was doing belied its recent statements that industrial action by the pilots has had no impact on the company’s operations.
Fórsa said that it is normal practice for airlines to reduce activity in the winter months.
“In light of this — and of Ryanair’s recent difficulty in recruiting and retaining enough pilots to fulfil its schedules — it remains unclear if today’s provocative move heralds a significant change in normal practice,” it said.
Sources have also questioned whether a reduction in the Dublin-based fleet would have an impact on the airline’s slots at Dublin Airport which are considered to be like “gold-dust”.
The union has also claimed that the issues in dispute would have been resolved in negotiation long ago in other companies without the need for costly stoppages.
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