Spanish pilots' union breaks off talks with Ryanair

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Spanish pilots' union SEPLA has broken off talks with Ryanair RYA.I over a union recognition agreement and says it plans to file a lawsuit against the airline over contracts in Spain.

FILE PHOTO: A Ryanair Boeing 737-800 plane taxis at Lisbon's airport, Portugal April 24, 2018. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante/File Photo

Ryanair decided in December to recognize unions for the first time and, while it has come to agreements in Britain and Italy, it is still working towards deals with unions in other major centers such as Ireland and Spain.

“We regret to inform you that, at today’s meeting, the negotiations with Ryanair’s management have been broken off as they have not accepted our minimum requirements document, 90 percent of which corresponded to their proposals,” SEPLA said in a newsletter to members.

SEPLA, which says it represents about 500 of 800 Ryanair pilots based in Spain, said the airline did not want to allow union members three days a month to carry out union duties.

It had previously threatened legal action but suspended it to carry out talks with Ryanair. SEPLA said it planned to meet with its lawyer on Monday to file the lawsuit.

A Ryanair spokeswoman said the company did “not comment on negotiations with our people”.

In an April 19 memo reviewed by Reuters, Ryanair had said the remaining issue was time-off duties for the pilots committee but that there appeared to be little between the two sides and so it was hopeful of an early conclusion.

Separately, Ryanair’s newly-formed transnational pilots group held its first meeting and gave pilots a list of items to negotiate with Ryanair to ensure fair working conditions, such as base transfer protocols.

“These are actually very reasonable requests to allow fair working conditions and to solve Ryanair’s pilot retention issues,” Dirk Polloczek, president of the European Cockpit Association, said on Twitter.

“We can now hope that this constructive attitude will be matched by Ryanair management in their talks with the national pilot unions.”

Reporting by Conor Humphries; Writing by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Mark Potter and David Goodman