October 12, 2017 / 5:00 PM / a year ago

Ryanair resists pilot call for new industrial relations approach

DUBLIN, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Ryanair resisted moves by pilots to unionise on Thursday, after one demanded the Irish airline adopts a new approach to industrial relations.

The European Cockpit Association, which represents pilot unions, said the demand by Imelda Comer represented the view of pilots in the majority of Ryanair’s 86 bases, who are in the process of setting up a pan-European representative body.

After the airline said it would not respond to anonymous letters, Comer became the first Ryanair captain to speak publicly in a letter to Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary.

Ryanair, which does not recognise trade unions, dismissed Comer’s letter as “disingenuous” and said it would not correspond with any newly formed pilot group. It said Comer had already resigned and was due to leave Ryanair on Oct. 31.

Europe’s largest airline by passenger numbers has sparked outrage by cancelling thousands of flights after it did not have enough standby pilots to operate its schedule.

O’Leary responded by promising significant improvements for pilots, saying it would exceed rates paid by rivals and improve job security.

But the offer has received a cool response from some pilots who have been organising on social media in recent weeks to use the pilot shortage to press for better conditions.

Ryanair will only bargain with Employee Representative Councils (ERCs). However, some pilots have complained that the ERCs do not provide them with the means to negotiate in any meaningful way and allow management to play different bases off against each other.

They have demanded a new independent and pan-European representative body, pilots and unions have said.


Pilots have announced the formation of an independent European Employee Representative Council (EERC) - and say they have written to Ryanair, with the endorsement of the ERCs in 60 of the airline’s bases.

“The offers that you have made to bases in the last 48 hours have not been negotiated with anyone; do not reflect any of the concerns or requirements set out by the pilots; are confusing and in some places potentially misleading; and do not cover all pilots in Ryanair,” Comer wrote.

“Properly informed negotiations need to take place... The old model has brought us to the current difficulties.”

Comer’s letter followed a memo to pilots sent on Wednesday by Ryanair chief people officer Eddie Wilson warning against unionising across bases ahead of an end-October deadline to accept the offer that it says would boost pay at some bases by 11,000 euros for first officers and 22,000 euros for captains.

“We will not enter into writing, or meetings, with competitor airline pilots/unions, or whatever they call themselves this week,” Wilson said in the memo, a copy of which was seen by Reuters.

And Ryanair has told pilots that if they do not sign up to the new conditions they may not get any pay rise.

“The only way to ensure that your base shares in this upside – from November – is to support your ERC’s reaching agreement over the next 3 weeks. If this doesn’t happen then these pay increases may be delayed until December, or next year, or not delivered at all,” Wilson said in the memo. (Editing by Alexander Smith)

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