Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair cancelled 20 flights departing Ireland today as pilots went on strike for a 4th time and the nightmare looks set to continue as the trade union Forsa has announced a 5th strike on 10 August and this and other industrial action will cause continued disruption to operations.
The Ireland strike adds to one already announced on the same day by its pilots in Sweden, and Belgium and the carrier said it has also been notified of action by pilot unions in Germany and the Netherlands, which Ryanair believes could be coordinated and occure on 10 August as well.
Ryanair has hit out at the latest move in Ireland by Forsa, who it said again rejected its repeated offers to meet to resolve this dispute on Tuesday, 7 August. The carrier said of the 11 requirements, nine have been agreed.
The strikes are reportedly being called over disputes over base transfers and related matters. Last week, Ryanair threatened to move a chunck of its operations to Poland as said the action was hurting its business and customers which is believed to have further hardened the views of pilots.
Last Monday (30 July) Ryanair said it invited Forsa and its Pilot Committee to meet on Saturday 4 August (or early next week) to discuss the 11 requirements as a way to resolve this dispute without further customer disruption.
Ryanair said it renewed this invitation on Wednesday, 1 August and offered to meet Forsa at Dublin Airport at 11am on Tuesday, 7 August, but Forsa has now called a 5th strike, which will “needlessly disrupt another 3,500 Irish customers” as 20 flights will have to be cancelled.
This 5th strike since 12 July will be carried out by 25 per cent of the carrier’s Irish pilots, which Ryanair said “proves that Forsa has no interest in meeting Ryanair” and at two meetings they showed “no interest in negotiating”.
Ryanair believes Forsa is not in control of the process, and it being driven by a tiny handful of Aer Lingus pilots who are now working with other pilot unions across Europe to create a day of action on 10 August.
The airline has again called on Forsa to remove these Aer Lingus pilots from the process since they have “no interest in meeting or resolving this dispute, they just want to damage Ryanair for the benefit of Aer Lingus”.
Ryanair said it will work over the coming days to re-accommodate those disrupted passengers and chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs said: “This 5th strike notice by Forsa is irresponsible, unwarranted and is disrupting customers and (a way of damaging) Ryanair’s business.”
He added: “In most unions where 4 strikes have failed to have any effect, the unions and employer would be entering into negotiations to resolve the dispute.
“In this case, after four days of unsuccessful strikes, a handful of Aer Lingus pilots are working behind the scenes with pilot unions in Sweden, Holland, Belgium, and Germany to further disrupt Ryanair’s business and Ryanair’s customers next Fri 10 Aug.”
The Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (IALPA) said industrial action will continue “until there is substantial movement on the pilots’ reasonable demands for an agreement on a fair and transparent approach to base transfers and related matters”.
In a statement, IALPA said: “The union has today told Ryanair that it remains available for talks. The airline’s escalation of the dispute last Wednesday – when it threatened to sack 100 pilots and 200 cabin crew, or transfer them to Poland – led to a predictable hardening of resolve among its staff.”
The airline started recognising trade unions in December last year and since then has been hit by a wave of strikes by pilots and cabin crew staff.