In a new development, the largest pilots union in the United Kingdom says it will start balloting its members working for Ryanair on whether they want to stage industrial action against the low-cost airline – possibly including strike action. Announcing the news, the general secretary of the BALPA union, Brian Strutton said: “As usual with Ryanair, it’s their way or the highway, and we are not prepared to put up with that.”
British pilots at the Dublin-based airline account for around 25% of Ryanair’s total flight crew community so any walkout could potentially have a huge effect on the airline. Only yesterday, Ryanair said it would have to close some unprofitable bases and adjusted its growth targets down for 2020 on the back of the 737MAX grounding.
Explaining the reasons for the ballot, BALPA issued a statement that explained:
“BALPA has tabled a detailed pay and conditions claim to try and resolve many outstanding areas of concern for pilots on issues such as pensions; loss of license insurance; maternity benefits; allowances; and a fair, transparent, and consistent pay structure.
However, we have not been able to come to an agreement with the company in relation to any one of our concerns. Indeed, the company has not tabled any offers whatsoever.”
The union plans to issue the ballot on 24th July and it will close on 7th August. That means, that if pilots back strike action, the earliest a walkout could take place is the 21st August.
Ryanair signed a union recognition agreement with the British Airline Pilots Association in January 2018 but no formal collective labour agreement has yet been reached between the two sides. However, members did take part in a secret ballot to approve wage increases that Ryanair claims put its British-based pilots earnings 20% above peers working for rivals such as Jet2 and Norwegian.
After a major rostering fiasco in late 2017, Ryanair pilots managed to win union recognition for the first time in the airline’s history. Although much progress has been made, critics say that Ryanair still has much to do to improve working conditions for its employees.
Ryanair has not yet publicly commented on the announcement.