Ryanair pilots prepare to strike just days before Christmas

Thousands of passengers could be affected by the strike just five days before Christmas

Thousands of Ryanair passengers are facing travel disruption, after the airline’s Irish-based pilots announced a one-day strike for next Wednesday.

Approximately 100 of the company’s pilots operating out of Dublin have voted in favour of the work stoppage.

The stoppage, scheduled for five days before Christmas, couldn’t come at a worse time for passengers – and the airline has yet to publish details of affected flights.

Ryanair pilots across Europe are demanding a new collective bargaining system to replace the employee representative councils that currently negotiate on behalf of staff.

The airline has a long-standing policy that it will never negotiate with trade unions.

On Newstalk Breakfast, Michael Doherty, professor in employment law at Maynooth University, said it is currently hard to see how a resolution can be found:

“The problem with this is that the company has built its entire model if you like and certainly its public persona on not dealing with unions,” he said.

“That is absolutely a red line for them.

“So in that sense we won’t even get past the first stage, which is engagement between the two sides, if things remain as they are.”

The pilots involved are members of the Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association (IALPA) which is affiliated with the IMPACT trade union.

The union has warned of further strike days if agreement is not reached.

Ryanair policy dictates that while staff have a legal right to join a trade union – it also has a right not to negotiate with them.

Professor Doherty said the dispute could see Ireland’s employment dispute resolution infrastructure put to the test.

“The company will point quite correctly to the fact that there is no legal obligation on them in Irish law to negotiate with the trade union,” he said.

“Equally though, the workers in question do have a right to take strike action if they want to.

“So our system is completely based on the fact that at some point there will be engagement.”

Ryanair has said it was “surprised” at the announcement adding that “less than 28%” of the 400 pilots operating out of Dublin were taking part.

It has accepted that some disruption may occur if the stoppage goes ahead.

“Ryanair will deal with any such disruptions if or when they arise, and we apologise sincerely to customers for any upset or worry this threatened action by less than 28% of our Dublin pilots may cause them over the coming days,” the airline said in a statement.

The IMPACT trade union has said pilots are simply fighting for their right and noted that the stoppage is avoidable if the company “picks up the phone and engages”