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Dublin: 17 °C Friday 20 September, 2019
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Ryanair strike: Judge to rule on planned stoppage as early as this afternoon

A 48 hour strike is planned from 12am on Thursday morning.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

A HIGH COURT decision is due either this afternoon or tomorrow on whether a planned strike of Ryanair pilots will go ahead on two days later this week. 

Trade union Fórsa last week served strike notice on Ryanair that full-time pilots would take strike action for 48 hours from midnight on Thursday 22 August. 

The move came after 94% of directly employed Ryanair pilots, who are members of the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (IALPA), voted to back industrial action in a long-running dispute over pay, working conditions and related issues.

Following the notice, Ryanair made an application to the High Court to secure an order preventing the strike from going ahead. The airline is seeking an injunction which would prevent the strike from being carried out. 

The case came before Mr Justice Denis McDonald in the High Court yesterday, where both sides made submissions.

Ryanair’s case

Ryanair’s case is against  Forsa, which is the parent union of IALPA (Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association) and a number of pilots who are members of IALPA, including the union’s president Mr Evan Cullen.

If granted the injunction would remain in place pending the final outcome of the airline’s action against the defendants. 

The airline, represented in court by Martin Hayden SC and Eoin O’Shea Bl, is also seeking a declaration from the court that Forsa’s ballot for the proposed strike action and its notice of strike action served on Ryanair last week was unlawful.

Among other points, Ryanair claims that:

  • The proposed strike breaches an agreement the parties agreed to, following a mediation conducted by retired Workplace Relations Commission Chair Mr Kieran Mulvey, in 2018.
  • The dates of the industrial action were chosen to cause maximum disruption to its business and coincide with strike action being taken on the same dates by Ryanair’s UK-based pilots.
  • There is no trade dispute, nor any valid complaint about the pilot’s terms and conditions of employment, between the parties.
  • No detailed pay proposals were put to it by Forsa in advance of the ballot or by the time strike notice was served. 

Fórsa’s response 

Fórsa has denied the claims.

The union – represented by Marguerite Bolger SC, appearing with Jason Murray Bl – has opposed the application. They told the court that:

  • It is involved in a trade dispute relating to pay with Ryanair, which it says has failed to agree or engage with proposals it made last March.
  • The airline’s response to its detailed pay proposals “was curt and dismissive”.
  • The 2018 agreement was not about pay or pay increases and had to do with specific issues including pilots grades, annual leave and base transfers.

While it regrets any negative consequences the industrial action will have on Ryanair’s customers, the union claims the proposed strike has been caused by Ryanair’s treatment of a legitimate pay proposal.

In a sworn statement to the court, Forsa’s assistant general secretary, Angela Kirk said the union is involved in a trade dispute with Ryanair.

It was a fundamental role of any trade union to seek the best possible deal for its members and that is exactly what Forsa/Ialpa have sought to do. She said the union had not engaged in any inappropriate behaviour as alleged by the airline.

Both sides will continue submissions this morning. 

The judge said that he hopes to have a decision in the case by tomorrow morning, but said that he may be in a position to deliver his ruling this afternoon.

Until then, the strike as planned is still set to go ahead on Thursday. 

 With reporting from Aodhan O’Faolain & Ray Managh

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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