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Shareholders at Ryanair AGM should question airline over industrial strategy, say disgruntled pilots

Ryanair’s UK pilots say they want shareholders to take the airline to task over the abysmal approach to industrial relations which has led to continued unrest amongst its pilot workforce.

Ryanair members of the British Airline Pilots Association first held strike action on 22nd and 23rd August, followed by three days between 2nd and 4th September. They are due to walk out again, with seven more days set for this week and next (18th, 19th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 27th, 28th and 29th September 2019).

The pilots’ union says the airline’s approach to industrial relations, and in turn its pilots, should be questioned by shareholders at the its forthcoming AGM, to be held on Thursday 19th September.

Ryanair is already under pressure from US-based investors who have accused the airline of making “false and misleading statements” about relations with workers and unions that they claim artificially inflated the carrier’s share price.

In the contested legal proceedings, which are ongoing, the investors argue that Ryanair failed to reveal in company statements and discussions with industry analysts that labour relations were deteriorating in 2017 and that the airline was unable to hire or keep enough pilots to meet expected demand in the face of strikes, thus increasing the risk of cancellations; and that it needed to increase pay and benefits significantly in order to recruit and retain staff.

Underlying the dispute over pay and conditions is pilot anger and resentment over a range of harsh cost-saving measures used by Ryanair. Many pilots begin their Ryanair careers on very insecure, zero-hours type contracts – you’re only paid if you fly, with no paid holiday, sick pay or maternity pay.

Although the airline appears to write pilots off saying they are paid the industry standard this is not the case.  Ryanair also fails to highlight how it also expects pilots to pay for their own uniform, food and drinks on board aircraft, parking at work, medicals, and much more – something quite unique to Ryanair.

There has been a cumulative effect that has led pilots to feel they have no other choice than to strike. Instead of heeding the warning of growing frustration, Ryanair had buried its head in the sand and this is only serving to further lower morale.

BALPA hopes that Ryanair’s shareholders recognise and challenge the abysmal state of industrial and employee relations within their airline and the see the reputational damage this will lead to if the strike action is allowed to go on indefinitely.