May 19, 2018 / 5:00 PM / 7 months ago

Ryanair's Irish union threatens possible strike

DUBLIN, May 19 (Reuters) - Ryanair’s Irish union has given the company until May 24 to agree to new working practices, or it will ballot pilots for possible industrial action, including strikes.

The Irish airline recognised trade unions in December for the first time in its 32-year history, when pilots exploited a chaotic period after the company was forced to cancel thousands of flights due to rostering problems.

Since then it has come to bilateral agreements with unions in Britain and Italy, but is still working towards deals with unions in other major centres such as Ireland and Spain.

The airline has experienced some minor disruption due to industrial action in Germany and Portugal, but has so far avoided a major strike.

The Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association wrote to CEO Michael O’Leary in a letter dated May 17, and seen by Reuters. The union is demanding the introduction of new systems for dealing with base allocations, promotions, and annual leave.

“If it is not possible to negotiate the introduction of such a seniority agreement for the benefit of our member pilots directly employed by Ryanair, it is our intention to ballot our member pilots employed by Ryanair for sanction for industrial action up to and including strike action,” the union wrote.

It said pilots complain that mandatory relocations cause family upheaval and they are demanding transparency so that members know why specific pilots are selected for transfers or why requests for transfers are denied.

The union wants the company to tell pilots why they are in the base they are in, the order in which their turn may come for a transfer, and why they received a particular annual leave allowance.

It also wants greater transparency around promotions and internal moves.

Following a request for a comment, Ryanair said: “We don’t comment on our negotiations with our people.”

In the past it has said the Irish union was making demands not compatible with its “low-fares, high productivity model”.

The company will release its full-year results on May 21. (Reporting by Graham Fahy; Editing by Andrew Bolton)

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