Ryanair is allegedly seeking a High Court injunction in a last-ditch bid to block a planned walkout next week by its pilots based in the UK. Last week, pilots backed by the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) voted in favour of industrial action in a long-running dispute over pay and conditions. The pilots union immediately issued strike dates with the first 48-hour walkout set to begin on Thursday 22nd August.
BALPA said it did not want to “spoil” anyone’s travel plans – especially during the busy Summer holiday travel period – but that it had been left with no choice after failing to make any progress with Ryanair management. Pilots are seeking improvements in a wide range of areas including pensions, maternity benefits, allowances and a new pay deal.
The union has offered to meet Ryanair at an independent mediation service but this suggestion has apparently been rejected by the airline. Instead, it’s understood lawyers for the low-cost carrier are seeking a court order to block the planned strike.
“This is typical Ryanair bully boy behaviour,” claims Brian Strutton, BALPA’s general secretary.
“If they think they can legally bludgeon us and their pilots into submission they are wrong. This is a waste of time and money that would be better spent trying to resolve the dispute.”
It’s believed Ryanair will be put their case to the High Court in London or either Monday or Tuesday where they’ll argue that a technicality with the BALPA vote invalidates the result. A similar attempt at the same thing by British Airways in a separate dispute with BALPA failed miserably last month, although Virgin Atlantic has previously successfully won an injunction to prevent a pilots strike.
“Trying to negotiate with them (Ryanair) is virtually impossible,” claims Strutton. “They have got a serious situation here with their own workforce. Rather than working with us to improve things, they are dragging this into court.”
Ryanair’s directly employed pilots in Ireland have also voted in favour of strike action and have decided to coordinate their walkout with British-based pilots on the 22nd and 23rd August. A second three-day walkout for British pilots has also been announced between 2nd and 4th September.