Less than a month after Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary announced staff redundancies The British Airline Pilots Association – Balpa – has confirmed that 80% of its Ryanair members voted in favour of strike action on a 72% turnout.
The union said pilots that did not want to disrupt people’s travel plans but felt they had no choice after “decades of Ryanair refusing to deal with unions”.
There are two walkouts planned – the first on 22-23 August before a second over 2-4 September.
Why are pilots striking?
Pilots are unhappy about pensions, loss of licence insurance, maternity benefits, allowances and a “fair, transparent and consistent pay structure”.
The pilot union Balpa said:
“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.”
General secretary Brian Strutton added:
“We have had no formal offer from Ryanair. It is imperative 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.”
What does Ryanair say?
According to Ryanair the strike ballot had the support of less than 30% of its UK-based pilots.
“The independent result of Balpa’s ballot shows that less than 50% of Ryanair’s UK pilots are members of Balpa, and of these, just 57% voted in favour of industrial action. This is less than 30% of Ryanair’s UK pilots.
“Balpa have no mandate to disrupt our customers holidays and flights, particularly at a time when UK pilots are facing job losses due to the Boeing Max delivery delays, and the threat of a no-deal Brexit on 31 October.”
In a letter to Balpa, Ryanair’s director of HR strategy and operations Darrell Hughes said senior captains were paid up to £180,000 per annum and, because of this, pilot turnover had fallen to zero “in recent months”.
“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.”
In the meantime there are potential strikes scheduled by British Airways pilots and and Heathrow ground staff on the same days in August.
By Sharron Livingston