Yesterday, Ryanair’s directly employed UK-based pilots downed tools in a third wave of strike action – this time, the pilots who are represented by the BALPA union (who are also running a separate dispute against British Airways), could walk out for a period totalling seven days if a deal can’t be worked out. So far, though, it looks like Ryanair has no interest in attending mediation to resolve the dispute.
At least, that’s what Brian Strutton the general secretary of BALPA claims. Strutton says his union wants to meet Ryanair at an independent mediation service but Ryanair has so far refused to take part in the non-binding conciliation service.
“Given that neither side has anything to lose from ACAS conciliation (independent mediation), what on earth is Ryanair frightened of?” Strutton ponders. “Instead of seeking to resolve the current impasse via negotiation, Ryanair seems hell-bent on prolonging the dispute,” he continued.
Instead of sitting down for talks, Strutton alleges that Ryanair has instead opted to remove travel benefits from any pilot that takes part in the strike. Unlike many other airlines, Ryanair pilots don’t get concessional tickets on other carriers but are able to enjoy massively discounted tickets on Ryanair’s own operated services.
Of course, the airline is perfectly entitled to remove this perk – so-called ID90 tickets (because they’re sold at a 90% discount) are non-contractual so an airline is at liberty to remove the privilege at any time and for any reason. What’s surprising is Ryanair initially showed restraint and didn’t ban the striking pilots from buying these discounted tickets during the first two rounds of strike action that took place in late August and early September.
In contrast, British Airways is alleged to have removed concessional ID90 tickets (that can be used on other airlines) from its pilots as soon as they took place in the first-ever day of strike action earlier this month.
Disputing Strutton’s allegations, Ryanair says that it “remains open to meeting with BALPA and we again call on them to return to talks as soon as possible.”
“On behalf of our customers and their families we wish to thank all our UK pilots and cabin crew who do not support these BALPA strikes and have chosen to fly as rostered,” the airline said in a statement posted on Twitter yesterday.
Cabin crew are not part of the dispute and must legally work whether they support the pilot strike or otherwise. Unlike the massive disruption at British Airways, the Irish low-cost carrier has managed to sustain a full schedule by drafting in planes and crew from other countries that are not part of the strike action.
Not all pilots based in the UK are directly employed by Ryanair and are therefore unable to take part in the strike either.