Ryanair pilots in Ireland will join their UK-based colleagues in going on strike if the no-frills carrier does not agree to their pay demands by Monday.
In a move that piles pressure on the Dublin-based carrier, members of Ialpa voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action, with the union citing widespread anger at the stagnation of pay negotiations with the airline.
Fórsa, an umbrella union that includes Ialpa, said industrial action was backed by 94% of the 180 pilots who were directly employed, meaning they were eligible to vote, unlike the many Ryanair pilots employed through third-party agencies.
The union, which is required to give at least one week’s notice before any strike under Irish law, will write to management early next week to outline its plans if the pay demands are not met.
Ian McDonnell, the assistant general secretary of Fórsa, said strikes could be avoided if management at the airline changed their attitude to labour relations, which had been fractious for some time.
He accused the airline of stalling tactics in negotiations, during which it had asked the union to estimate the cost of its demands and then failed to provide the information necessary to make the calculations.
“Ryanair’s directly employed Irish-based pilots are simply seeking pay levels that are common and competitive in the commercial airline sector, from a company that made a more-than-healthy profit of €1bn (£930m) last year,” McDonnell said.
“They 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.
“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.”
The Guardian has approached Ryanair for comment.
Ryanair was already facing the prospect of five days of disruption in late August and early September after talks to avert strike action by UK-based pilots broke down. Members of UK pilots’ union Balpa are planning a 48-hour strike from 00:01 on 22 August until 23:59 on 23 August, and a 72-hour strike from 00:01 on 2 September until 23.59 on 4 September. The Dublin-based airline says it has written to Balpa asking for a resumption of talks but is hardly taking a conciliatory tone, pointing out that less than 30% of its UK pilots have voted for action.
“This Balpa industrial action has no mandate from Ryanair pilots, is ill-timed just 10 weeks before Brexit, and will cause unnecessary disruption to customers’ holidays and travel plans,” the airline said.
It added that Ryanair’s UK pilots recently agreed a 20% salary increase, with senior captains earning up to £180,000 a year.
The airline refused to recognise trade unions for many years but changed its stance at the beginning of 2018 after an error caused it to mismanage its pilot rostering schedule. It was forced to cancel hundreds of flights, putting itself at the mercy of pilots to resolve the mess.