The Ryanair CEO claimed “misinformation” was circulated by competitor pilot unions in the wake of September’s pilot rostering failure. He said the misinformation was a “predictable by-product” of the crisis.
He said: “Since Ryanair has, for over 30 years, operated a sophisticated collective bargaining process, supported fully by our pilots and cabin crew — confirmed and validated by the Irish Supreme Court — the only way our existing five-year base agreements can be changed [some of which run to 2020] is by negotiation between the airline and our base ERCs [employee representative councils].”
He was referring to a landmark 2007 Supreme Court ruling in favour of Ryanair, after the airline refused to co-operate with the Labour Court, saying it had its own ERCs. The ruling undermined unions’ ability to have a foothold in private sector companies.
As a result, Ryanair pilots bargain with their employer via these ERCs as opposed to an independent union.
After the pilot rostering failure, which saw thousands of flights cancelled, pilots were urged to use it to bargain with their employer for better conditions including permanent contracts.
Mr O’Leary, while not referring to direct employees and commenting under a heading called “our people” said the airline had the “best job security in Europe”.
“I’m sorry that our people have had to listen to misinformation about Ryanair promoted by competitor pilot unions,” he said. “However, we have been here before, and we will be again.
“We understand that the reason they wish to denigrate Ryanair is because their airlines cannot compete with us. As usual, when these union airlines fail, such as Monarch, Air Berlin, and Alitalia in recent months, their pilots all come to Ryanair seeking jobs that pay up to €175,000 per annum, deliver a double bank holiday weekend every week, with the best promotions record and, the best job security in Europe.”
Despite what Mr O’Leary said, it is understood that Ryanair pilots based in Ireland have told the airline they will only negotiate through their new joint European Employee Representative Council (EERC).
This is a collective version of the ERC, and so far the airline has refused to recognise it, instead negotiating only with the committees at the individual 87 bases.
Mr O’Leary yesterday said he has already negotiated on pay increases with various bases but clarified he will not be forced to meet with a collective grouping such as the EERC.
“The Stansted pilots have voted, in secret ballot, to reject this large pay increase and we will respect their wishes, and they will continue with the existing pay agreement at Stansted until 2020,” he said. “If Stansted pilots wish to reconsider or revote, they may do so at any time through their ERC.
“We will not, and cannot, be forced to meet with any outside group such as the so-called EERC which like REPA (2004) and RPG (2012) is a front for competitor airline pilot unions.”