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Pilot critcises Ryanair negotiations in O'Leary letter

A serving Ryanair pilot has written a hard-hitting letter to management criticising its internal negotiating structures for staff.

Captain Imelda Comer, who is the first pilot to come out openly to put her name to criticisms, hand-delivered her letter to Ryanair headquarters yesterday.

In her letter to CEO Michael O’Leary, Captain Comer refers to the fear of being identified among pilots concerned about victimisation for speaking out, or for becoming involved in a proposed new joint negotiating body for all 87 bases called the European Employee Representative Committee.

She notes that Ryanair has either ignored previous EERC communications or claimed that they were not from legitimate pilot representatives.

She confirms that the correspondence was from the EERC group made up exclusively of Ryanair pilots from several countries.

She restates the EERC’s previous call for no victimisation, legal action, or other measures to be taken against pilots in the performance of their representative work.

Captain Comer also reiterates the demands of pilots, including permanent local contracts negotiated by 1 January 2018, benchmarking of conditions with regional competitor airlines, and the right to have professional assistance in negotiations.

Captain Comer tells Ryanair that their insistence on only negotiating with pilots through individual bases places all pilots at a significant disadvantage, creating what she calls an “unreasonable imbalance” in any such interactions.

She tells Mr O’Leary this approach may deliver a short term fix in a handful of bases, but will not resolve the deep-seated issues imposed on pilots over the last ten years, which have cumulatively given rise to the airline’s most recent difficulties.

Captain Comer says pilots’ time is taken up with flying duties with no time to prepare for negotiating tasks which Ryanair insists only pilots must fulfil.

She goes on to say that “…the complexity of pilots living, operating and moving around Europe exposes us to legal, financial, income tax and social insurance considerations that we do not have expertise in. For these reasons we have reserved the right to seek any assistance we require to support us in our interactions and negotiations with the company.”

She says that if the required assurances are given, pilots will be happy to disclose their identities and fully engage in meaningful and constructive discussions to resolve the outstanding company difficulties.

She says pilots will surrender some leave to help resolve the current staffing problems, but only in the context of those changes.

Captain Comer notes that the offers of pay rises made to various bases in the last 48 hours “… have not been negotiated with anyone; do not reflect any of the concerns or requirements set out by the pilots; are confusing and in some places potentially misleading; and do not cover all pilots in Ryanair.”

She concludes by calling for early negotiations in which pilots and their advisors can sit as equals at the table.

Last night, Ryanair told pilots that if they do not accept proposed pay increases – with no negotiation through unions or joint representative bodies – they may not get any increases for up to five years.

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