IMPACT’s Central Executive Committee has sought legal opinion on the convoluted employment arrangements in place for many Ryanair pilots. The union has accused company management of using arms-length ‘zero hours’ contracts to undermine employees’ rights and avoid independent trade union representation.
The move comes amid a crisis at the airline, which has left tens of thousands of customers in the lurch because it can’t retain enough pilots to meet its flight schedules.
One Ryanair pilot took the brave step of sending an open letter to the airline’s chief executive, despite the company’s record of intimidation and harassment of staff and union reps. Captain Imelda Comer said she had “not seen anything like the level of pilot anger, frustration and disappointment arising from the way the company management has treated us in the recent past.”
Captain Comer said management’s recent actions had resulted in “an unprecedented level of unity throughout the pilot body, and a spontaneous desire to become an organised group and to respond to the company with a unified voice.”
Meanwhile, the European Cockpit Association (ECA), which speaks for pilot bodies across the continent, has sent an open letter to members of the European Parliament. It called for “genuine social dialogue” in the company, which denies its staff independent union representation and instead has company-run procedures in place.
Like IMPACT, the EPA also wants the implementation of a recent European Court of Justice judgement, which states that air crew members, in disputes relating to their employment contracts, have the option of bringing proceedings before the courts of the place where they perform the essential part of their duties.
Captain Comer placed the blame for the company’s latest difficulties firmly on its executives. “Management got us into this mess. They cannot solve these problems without us. To move our own representation in a new direction, we have to stop the company’s usual rush to divide and conquer. Only the pilots acting together can do that. An airline is not an airline without its pilots,” she wrote.