Ryanair's conciliatory behavior seems to have worked this time, but it remains to be seen how its new attitude toward unions plays out over the long term.
The Irish company wrote to pilot organizations in Ireland, the U.K., Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal inviting each of them to talks “to recognize these unions as the representative body for pilots in Ryanair in each of these countries,” it said last week. In response, pilots suspended a strike set for Dec. 20.
Impact, a labor union helping representing the pilots, said late Sunday that it had agreed to meet management on Tuesday, but says it is available to meet sooner.
In the email statement, Impact said “it looked forward to establishing a positive relationship with Ryanair company management.
The about-turn by Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary, who once said “Hell would freeze over” before Ryanair unionized, reflects the intensity of the pressure pilot groups have put on the airline for recognition. The CEO had pledged higher pay and bonuses to keep flight-deck crews from bolting to rivals and also threatened them with retaliatory measures if they went on strike.
Ryanair said in its statement that unions will be recognized so long as they establish committees of its pilots to deal with issues relating to the company. There will be no engagement with pilots who fly for competitor airlines, the company said, calling on crews to call off planned walkouts.
©2017 Bloomberg L.P.
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Photo credit: A Ryanair aircraft over Dublin. The airline's Irish pilots' union has called off a planned industrial action.