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Ryanair pilots in Ireland settle dispute after 22-hour negotiating session

Budget airline still faces a wide range of grievances from workers across Europe

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Thursday 23 August 2018 09:44 BST
Clear skies? After marathon negotiations, the Ryanair dispute with Irish pilots may be over
Clear skies? After marathon negotiations, the Ryanair dispute with Irish pilots may be over (EPA)

After a marathon session of talks that lasted longer than a flight from London to Sydney, one of Ryanair’s industrial battles appears to be settled.

Pilots employed by the airline in Ireland have been in dispute over seniority issues and base transfers throughout the summer. They have staged five one-day strikes, which have resulted in dozens of flight cancellations between Ryanair’s home base, Dublin, and UK airports.

Shortly before 8am on Thursday, a gruelling set of negotiations which had begun at 10am the previous morning were concluded in Dublin.

Fórsa, the union which includes the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association, announced: “Agreement has been reached between Fórsa and Ryanair in the pilots’ dispute.

“The proposed agreement will now go to ballot, with a recommendation for acceptance from Fórsa and its Ryanair pilot representatives.”

The process is likely to take a further two weeks.

Since December 2017, when Ryanair agreed to recognise trade unions, it has faced a barrage of demands from pilots and cabin crew across Europe. The pilots’ dispute in Ireland has been particularly bitter.

Ryanair accused pilots working for its rival, Aer Lingus, of fuelling the dispute. It also announced plans to move aircraft from Ireland to Poland for the winter, along with 100 pilots’ jobs and 200 cabin crew posts.

Talks mediated by a respected industrial relations troubleshooter, Kieran Mulvey, began earlier this month.

But the budget airline still faces a wide range of grievances from workers across Europe over pay and conditions.

On 10 August, a coordinated strike by pilots in Germany, Sweden and Belgium as well as Ireland caused the cancellation of 400 flights, affecting 70,000 passengers.

Last month, cabin crew from Spain, Portugal and Belgium walked out for two days, grounding 600 flights.

The airline is warning investors: “There may be a push for legacy-type working conditions which if acceded to could decrease the productivity of pilots, increase costs and have an adverse effect on profitability.

“Ryanair intends to retain its low fare high people productivity model; however, there may be periods of labour unrest as unions challenge the existing high productivity model which may have an adverse effect on customer sentiment and profitability.”

The UK Civil Aviation Authority has urged passengers whose Ryanair flights are cancelled by strikes to claim compensation of €250 (for journeys of up to 1,500km) or €400 (for longer journeys).

But the airline insists the stoppages are beyond its control and says that claims will be refused.

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