Ryanair pilots in the UK go on strike for better pay and work conditions

The airline was successful in securing an injunction from the Irish court, forbidding Irish pilots from joining the strike. However, the same plea was rejected by the courts in the UK.

August 22, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch
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Trade unions in Ireland have blamed the 1990 Industrial Relations Act, which limits workers’ rights and trade union activities in the country, as the reason behind the injunction secured by the airline.

Pilots in the United Kingdom from the airline Ryanair began their strike on August 22, demanding better pay and work conditions. Ryanair pilots from the UK and Ireland had voted to go on strike earlier this month. The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) gave the call for a strike on August 22 and 23 and from September 2 to 4.

The Irish Times reported that on Wednesday, the Irish High Court granted Ryanair an injunction, preventing a strike on Thursday by the 180 members of the Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association (IALPA). However, the High Court in London refused Ryanair’s application for an injunction to stop the pilots’ strike in the UK.

Brian Strutton, BALPA general secretary, said, “Ryanair was foolish to bring this into the High Court rather than the negotiating room. We offered to meet Ryanair management to negotiate a resolution, but instead they attempted a legal bludgeon. That’s backfired. However, we are clear that we want to settle the dispute and bring about a change in Ryanair for the better. Pilots in Ryanair are seeking the same kind of policies and agreements that exist in other airlines – our demands are not unreasonable. We want to address issues like pensions, loss of license insurance, maternity benefits, allowances, and harmonize pay across the UK in a fair, transparent, and consistent structure.”

Strutton said that BALPA is expecting Ryanair to take up its offer of a way forward this evening so that the strike can be called off. Apologizing to the passengers who will be affected, he said that in case Ryanair rejects BAPLA’s proposal, the action will continue over the next two days.

Trade unions in Ireland have blamed the 1990 Industrial Relations Act, which limits workers’ rights and trade union activities in the country, as the reason behind the injunction secured by the airline.

The trade union spokesperson from the Communist Party of Ireland, Jimmy Doran, told Peoples Dispatch, “The balance of power in Ireland is firmly on the side of capital since the introduction of the 1990 Industrial Relations Act. Workers no longer have the final say on when to take industrial action. Ryanair got an injunction to stop pilots going on strike, as once again the judiciary sided with the employers against the workers. The Industrial Relations Act is the most regressive piece of anti-worker legislation ever enacted in this country. If workers are to regain any power over their destiny, the 1990 act must be abolished. As a result of this anti-worker legislation, union density is now at an all-time low of 24% and consequently, Ireland has the lowest level of pay in the EU and the second lowest in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).”

Earlier in 2018, the employees of Ryanair had organized multiple strikes in various countries, demanding a fair ‘Collective Labor Agreement’ (CLA). As the company is registered in Ireland where labor laws are ‘employer friendly’, Ryanair never acted in compliance with the demands of its workers in different European countries. However, on September 26, 2018, the EU Commission ordered Ryanair to comply with the EU rules, which stipulate that employees must be hired in accordance with the labor laws of the countries where they live and work.

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