Ryanair pilots signal birth of transnational group

Pilot unions and Ryanair company councils have joined forces in a bid to secure direct permanent employment contracts subject to local law, equal and transparent career opportunities across the airline and effective collective representation for all its pilots regardless of country or base.

A new protocol setting up the Ryanair Transnational Pilot Group (RTPG) was adopted unanimously on 17 March, during a conference organised by European pilot umbrella association ECA in Luxembourg. The protocol also establishes the RTPG as being the primary Ryanair pilot body for all transnational matters.

“The world is watching Ryanair’s pilots as they strive for decent and fair working conditions. And rightly so. Precarious atypical employment and denied labour rights are not only a trend in aviation but a phenomenon that is aggressively spreading, both in Europe and worldwide. The pilots of Ryanair have shown that with immense will and unity, employees can successfully regain their position at the bargaining table – this is excellent news,” said ECA president Dirk Polloczek.

Since Ryanair’s cancellation crisis in September 2017, a grassroots initiative of self-organising spread across Europe and led pilots to join trade unions in large numbers. They established official company councils, designed to facilitate and formalise negotiations in line with national legal and social requirements.

“The announcement of union recognition that followed from Ryanair was no ‘revolution’, but a long overdue necessity to finally listen to and engage with its own pilots who are so crucial to the airline’s success,” said ECA secretary general Philip von Schöppenthau. “It is now up to Ryanair to join its pilots on their path and recognise their collective voice on the many transnational issues and concerns they share. The setting up of this transnational pilot group is a clear signal to Ryanair management to engage in constructive and meaningful social dialogue both at national and at transnational level.”

The new RTPG will allow ECA member associations from across Europe and their Ryanair company councils to pool resources, legal, political and technical know-how, as well as decades of experience in constructive social dialogue and collective bargaining.

“The Ryanair pilots can now look forward to working together in the RTPG. Only in addressing their challenges and those they share with their employer collectively can they ensure a socially sustainable future for the company, its passengers, and employees alike,” concluded Dirk Polloczek.

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