Ryanair Christmas strike: Everything You Need to Know About How the Airline Backed Down
Ryanair has made a historic climbdown in the face of a pre-Christmas strike threatened by its Dublin pilots by agreeing to recognise unions for first time in its 33-year history, Daily Telegraph writes.
The Irish carrier on Friday morning said it had written to pilot unions in Ireland, the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal inviting each to begin talks to establish the unions as the official representative bodies for the carrier’s flight crew.
This follows an announcement earlier in the week by the airline’s Dublin-based pilots that they intended to strike for 24 hours on December 20 over a dispute about the absence of union representation. Ryanair has long refused to engage with unions, instead only dealing with staff demands and concerns directly, something the airline was legally allowed to do.
The dispute centred on Ryanair pilots’ desire to negotiate terms via the collective European Employee Representative Council – which encompasses staff at all bases – rather than each of the company’s 87 bases agreeing terms separately. Pilots in Italy and Portugal also voted in favour of industrial action.
A letter to Ryanair from the Ialpa branch of the union, and seen by Telegraph Travel, said the staff were preparing for industrial action should Ryanair fail to see Ialpa as the representative body for its pilots, commence disciplinary proceedings against any Ialpa members or reduce their pay or change their terms or conditions of employment.
What has Ryanair said?
Having originally said it would “face down” the industrial action, Ryanair said today it would change its policy of not recognising unions as long as the bodies were exclusively Ryanair pilots, rather than, say, Ryanair and Aer Lingus, as Ialpa was.
“Ryanair now calls on these pilot unions to call off the threatened industrial action on [December 20] next so that our customers can look forward to travelling home for Christmas without the threat or worry of pilot strikes hanging over them,” the airline said in a statement.
Michael O’Leary, the airline’s combative chief executive, said: “Christmas flights are very important to our customers and we wish to remove any worry or concern that they may be disrupted by pilot industrial action next week.
“If the best way to achieve this is to talk to our pilots through a recognised union process, then we are prepared to do so, and we have written today to these unions inviting them to talks to recognise them and calling on them to cancel the threatened industrial action planned for Christmas week.
“Recognising unions will be a significant change for Ryanair, but we have delivered radical change before, most recently when we launched Ryanair Labs and our highly successful Always Getting Better customer improvement programme in 2013.
“Putting the needs of our customers first, and avoiding disruption to their Christmas flights, is the reason why we will now deal with our pilots through recognised national union structures and we hope and expect that these structures can and will be agreed with our pilots early in the New Year.”
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