Ireland-based Ryanair pilots have announced they will go on strike for 48 hours on 22 and 23 August after last-minute talks with the airline failed to reach an agreement.
The Irish Airline Pilots Association (IALPA), which is part of the Forsa trade union, said 94 per cent of the carrier’s Irish pilots voted to back industrial action. They were angered by the airline’s failure to respond to a 30-page proposal sent by the union in March that sought pay levels and structures it says are in line with sector norms. It also included suggestions on pensions, working conditions and related matters.
The union agreed to return to talks yesterday with mediator Kieran Mulvey but said only a “substantive counter-proposal from Ryanair management” would convince pilots not to strike. It later announced no such counter-proposal was made at the meeting.
Ryanair claims it never received specific proposals from IALPA and said pilots withdrew from yesterday’s mediation talks when no progress was made on their “unrealistic and unimplementable proposals”.
Responding to the strike announcement, the airline claimed Forsa is seeking a 101 per cent pay increase for IALPA members on top of the current average annual salary of €172,000. It continued: “Ryanair pilots are insisting on these pay demands being met, just one day after Norwegian announced the closure of its Dublin operations with the loss of over 120 crew jobs”.
Ryanair is currently considering plans for cutting up to 900 “surplus” jobs – including 500 pilot roles – after it posted a 21 per cent drop in profits for the first quarter. It also blamed the potential losses on delays to deliveries of its Boeing 737 Max orders and the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit.
Chief people officer Eddie Wilson commented: “We have done everything in our power to avoid disruption to our flights and our customers’ holidays. However, no company can concede to grossly unreasonable demands from its highest-paid workers for a further pay increase of over 100 per cent – when they already agreed and received a 20 per cent pay increase earlier this year – at a time when the airline industry is in crisis.”
Forsa said it would give Ryanair advanced notice of any further strike dates “in due course”.
The Irish strikes come in addition to industrial action being taken by UK-based pilots for the airline on the same dates – from 0001 on 22 August until 2359 on 23 August. British pilots are also planning a second walk-out from 2-4 September.