Nearly a quarter of Ryanair’s Irish pilots are planning to give the Irish LCC notice of strike action in the next few days in pursuit of a pay and working conditions claim.

On Aug. 9, the Fórsa union, of which the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (IALPA) is part, said it would write to Ryanair giving details for industrial action unless the airline agreed to its pay proposals by Aug. 12. By law, the union is required to give a week’s notice of industrial action.

Ryanair said it was disappointed by the union’s decision and said that less than 25% of its Irish pilots were IALPA members. It added that the union had failed to put forward details of what it was seeking, the airline said.

The move comes as Ryanair crews from both the UK and Spain are also contemplating strike action at the height of the European summer holiday season.

Fórsa said around 180 of Ryanair’s directly employed pilots were IALPA members and that 94% of those who had taken part in the ballot had voted for strike action. Ryanair pilots who are employed through agencies are not involved.

The union submitted a pay claim to the company in late March 2019, seeking pay levels and structures “in line with sector norms.” It said the airline, which posted profits of €1 billion ($1.1 billion) in 2018, is in a healthy financial position and can fairly reward its pilots.

Fórsa assistant general secretary Ian McDonnell accused the company of stalling tactics in negotiations, where it had sought costings of the union’s claim and then failed to provide the operational information needed to make the calculations.

The pilots “feel they have been forced into contemplating potentially-disruptive industrial action by a company that seems either unwilling or unable to negotiate in a professional and constructive manner,” McDonnell said. “At this stage, only a substantive counter-proposal, which properly addresses all areas of our claim, will be enough to prevent us serving notice of industrial action next week.”

In response, Ryanair said “The result of Forsa’s ballot shows that less than half of Ryanair’s Irish pilots are members of Fórsa, and less than 60% of these Fórsa members participated in the ballot, with less than 25% of Ryanair’s Irish pilots voting for industrial action.”

The airline said that since summer 2018, Ryanair and Fórsa have engaged in a mediation process, and had delivered collective agreements on promotions, transfers, seniority and most recently (April 2019), a pay increase of up to 20% for those Irish pilots who had not agreed this 20% increase in 2018.

“On July 30, Fórsa gave an undertaking that they would return to mediation next week (beginning Aug. 11) with specific pay proposals, which they have failed to provide either to Ryanair or [the official mediator] for over six months now,” Ryanair said. “Fórsa are still unable to explain what pay increase they are seeking on top of the 20% increase already agreed.”

Ryanair concluded the union “should continue in mediation and avoid threatening unnecessary disruptions to customers holidays and travel plans.”

Alan Dron, alandron@adepteditorial.com