June 28, 2020 / 9:18 AM / 13 days ago

Ryanair bypasses union, threatens base closures in Irish pilot talks

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ryanair (RYA.I) has threatened to close two regional bases and axe up to 120 pilot jobs unless pilots in its home Irish market bypass their union and directly accept a pay cut, a memo seen by Reuters said.

Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS plane EI-EKG lands in Riga International Airport in Riga, Latvia January 17, 2020. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

Europe’s largest low-cost carrier is demanding pay cuts of up to 20% and changes to work practices across Europe.

It has said it plans 3,000 job cuts and a reduction in staff unit costs, but faces union resistance in a number of markets.

In the memo sent on Friday, Ryanair director of operations Neal McMahon told pilots the union council representing Irish pilots had walked away from talks on Wednesday, something the Forsa trade union denied.

McMahon said a union request for an extension of a 30-day consultation on job cuts represented “stalling tactics”.

Instead, the memo sent on the company’s internal messaging system, asked pilots to click a button to accept proposals including a 20% pay cut that would be reversed gradually within four years, a spreading of available work via job shares and unpaid leave, and “productivity improvements”.

It said the number of job losses, and whether bases at Cork and Shannon airports remained open would depend on the number of acceptances.

A Ryanair spokeswoman said she had “nothing further to add to that memo”.

Trade union Forsa, in a memo to pilots on Friday, said Ryanair’s latest proposal was unacceptable as it would effectively leave pilots temporarily on zero-hour contracts and provided no guarantee job losses would be avoided.

Forsa said it had requested third-party mediation, but had not received a reply.

Ryanair, which is reopening much of its network on July 1, says it needs to cut staff costs to compete with rivals that have received state bailouts.

Union representatives have pointed to management comments about expansion opportunities likely to be triggered by the retrenchment of rivals in the wake of COVID-19.

Reporting by Conor Humphries; editing by Barbara Lewis

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