Ryanair's charm offensive toward workers is being put to the test after Irish pilots gave it less than two days to reach an agreement recognising their labor union or face the possibility of strikes.
Europe's largest discount carrier, which is based in Dublin, has until noon Thursday to come up with "concrete" proposals after failing to put forward written terms at a meeting late Tuesday, according to the IMPACT/IALPA union.
The deadline revives the possibility of disruption to Ryanair flights over the busy Christmas and New Year travel period. The company appeared to have headed off the first strikes in its history after Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary last week softened a longstanding anti-union stance, saying he’d recognise fledgling pilot organisations established after a rostering mixup disrupted flights and boosted employee bargaining power.
"While Ryanair management said they recognised IMPACT/IALPA for collective bargaining purposes at this evening’s meeting, they said they were unable to give the union a piece of paper to confirm this,” the labor body said in a statement Tuesday. “This is disappointing given all that’s been said in the media over the last five days.”
Union official Bernard Harbor told Ireland’s RTE radio Wednesday that while the meeting with management had been "positive," action was needed "to match encouraging words."
Shares of Ryanair traded 1.6 per cent higher as of 9:09 am in Dublin. The stock fell 9 per cent Friday in the wake of O’Leary’s apparent concessions amid investor concern that a compromise would inflate costs and undermine the company’s business model.
The Irish union, which had originally planned a walkout on Wednesday, said its strike mandate can still be implemented after required notice “in the absence of a timely agreement.” Ryanair also plans to meet with representatives of German and Portuguese pilots this week before consulting with other cockpit crews, as well as flight attendants, “in due course.”
Credit Suisse has downgraded Ryanair, predicting unionisation means costs may rise by more than the €100 million forecast by the company for fiscal year 2019, though the carrier has said it's standing by its targets. Davy, Ireland’s largest securities firm, says expenses should still remain well below those of rivals and RBC Capital Markets has said other airlines may now experience similar pressures.
News by Bloomberg - edited by Hospitality Ireland