Ryanair pilots to go on strike in row over pay and job security

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Irish low-cost airline Ryanair has today found out that their pilots have voted to go on strike, following a row over pay and working conditions.

The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) have announced that two walkouts will take place on 22nd-23rd August and 2nd-4th September. The pilot’s ballot saw 80% vote in favour of strike action on a 72% turnout.

A statement from BALPA read: “Decades of Ryanair refusing to deal with unions has resulted in two things. Firstly, a management that apparently doesn’t understand how to work with unions, and secondly a company that doesn’t have a number of standard agreements that any union would reasonably expect in any workplace.
That is why our claim includes many issues including pensions; loss of license insurance; maternity benefits; allowances; and a fair, transparent, and consistent pay structure.

“We have made no progress with Ryanair management on any of those areas at all, seemingly because Ryanair management cannot understand how to go about working with us constructively, or how to negotiate. Ryanair has made no offer to BALPA in respect of its pilots.”

Brian Strutton, BALPA General Secretary, commented: “We have had no formal offer from Ryanair and it is imperative that we resolve this dispute urgently to avoid strike action. No pilot wants to spoil the public’s travel plans but at the moment it seems we have no choice.”

It has been a difficult few days for Ryanair, who last week announced a 21% fall in profits, which they blamed on higher fuel costs, reduced ticket prices and staff issues.

On 31 July, Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary warned staff to prepare for job cuts in the coming weeks, saying the airline has 900 too many pilots and cabin crew staff.

However, Ryanair today came out in defence of the company and condemned the strike.

In a letter addressed to Brian Strutton, Ryanair stated: “We call on BALPA to call off any planned industrial action, as it does not have the support of the majority of Ryanair’s UK pilots as follows:

– Ryanair employs more than 1,250 UK pilots
– Less than 36% (445) voted in this BALPA ballot
– Just 28% of Ryanair’s UK pilots voted in favour of industrial action
– Over 44% of BALPA’s members either voted “no” to industrial action or didn’t vote at all.

“At a time when the Boeing MAX delivery delays means that Ryanair has fewer aircraft than planned for W19 and S20, leading to an enforced series of base cuts and closures, some of these in the UK, and a no-deal Brexit is less than 10 weeks away, this is a time for Ryanair and our pilots to work together to get our customers to their destinations without disruption.

“As your ballot results indicate, BALPA do not have significant support for disrupting our customers holidays at a time when some UK pilots are facing job losses over the coming weeks. Any threat of industrial action should now be taken off the table, and BALPA should work with us to preserve UK pilot jobs, not destroy them.

“Ryanair UK pilots recognise the favourable pay and conditions they enjoy, with Senior Captains earning up to £180,000 p.a., which is why pilot turnover has fallen to zero in recent months, and BALPA is promoting pay freezes at Jet2 and 12-month unpaid leave at Norwegian, our competitor UK airlines.

“At this difficult time for UK pilots facing base cuts and closures, BALPA should be working with Ryanair to save UK pilot jobs, not endanger them through ill-timed and ill-judged disruption of our customers’ travel plans, just 10 weeks before the threat of a no-deal Brexit. We remain available for talks at your convenience.”

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