Fórsa says its Ryanair negotiating team is “made up solely of Ryanair pilots"
The union representing Irish-based Ryanair pilots has insisted its negotiating team in the ongoing dispute with the airline is “made up solely of Ryanair pilots.”
The airline has confirmed the cancellation of 20 flights to and from Ireland next Friday as a result of the fourth day of strike action by Dublin-based pilots.
It said all customers have already been notified and will be readily re-accommodated on other flights – or refunded their fare.
This afternoon, the airline claimed that an Aer Lingus pilot was interfering in the negotiations.
It said the Fórsa trade union was “being misled by and deferring to” Aer Lingus Captain Evan Cullen in the talks – and insisted that the rival airline was the “direct beneficiary of these actions.”
Captain Cullen is the president of the Irish Airline Pilots Association (IALPA) – which is a branch of Fórsa.
This afternoon, Fórsa noted that that its negotiating team for the Ryanair talks is “made up solely of Ryanair pilots – elected by their peers in the company – and full-time Fórsa officials with no links to any airline or any other employer.”
It said the airline is “aware of this as its representatives have met the union team on a number of occasions.”
The union said Ryanair’s claim of “interference” was an attempt to divert public attention away from its failure to respond to Fórsa’s offer to attend negotiations.
“The company’s refusal to meet means that a minimum of 18 days will have elapsed since the last engagement between the parties,” it said.
It said further industrial action can only be avoided if the company “engages in meaningful negotiations, rather that issuing threats to its staff.”
The union called for an “independent third-party” to be brought in to “resolve the significant differences that remain.”
The airline warned on Wednesday that up to 300 jobs are at risk, with plans to cut the size of its Dublin fleet over the winter period.
Fórsa said it believed the airline's decision to issue protective notice to 300 of its staff on Wednesday was "an attempt to put pressure on its employees."
It said the "provocative act, which was likely to harden pilots’ resolve, had escalated the dispute while demonstrating management’s unwillingness or inability to negotiate with unions in good faith."
Earlier the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar called on both sides to “come to an agreement” and end the dispute.
Speaking in Rome after meeting the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Mr Varadkar said: "Ultimately it's a commercial decision for any business as to how many flights they're going to run or how many staff they need to staff those planes - so that is a commercial decision.
"But I am very concerned at the escalation in the Ryanair dispute, particularly the impact it's going to have on holidaymakers - on every day people who have spent months saving up for their holidays who may now find themselves discommoded or rescheduled or perhaps not being able to take that holiday.
"So I'd really ask both Ryanair and the unions to think about the people, to think about those customers: the ones who ultimately pay the wages of the pilots and the cabin crew, who ultimately pay the dividends of the shareholders and keep the board in office.
"I'd ask that they get around the table, come to an agreement and allow things to return to normal."
Additional reporting Jack Quann