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Monday 28 March 2011

Call My Bluff In Stratford

Last week brought a less than totally successful outcome for our old friends at Ryanair, the Millwall of air carriers (everybody hates us and we don’t care) as they talked the talk, but then opened their wallets rather than being forced to walk the walk.

Michael O’Leary’s finest are renowned for their intense dislike of trades unions, and especially pilots’ union BALPA. So when a Ryanair pilot who was also a member of BALPA was found to have given a cabin crew member a recruitment leaflet for the Unite union, he was sacked pour encourager les autres.

The pilot concerned, James Anderson, who had more than eight years’ service with Ryanair, was clearly unimpressed and took the airline to an Employment Tribunal, with the case due to be heard on Tuesday last week. And on the day before the hearing, Ryanair posted a characteristically bullish item on the matter.

Ryanair Rejects BALPA’s False Claims” it thundered, asserting that the action would be defended. There was also the usual abuse directed towards BALPA, with the claim “This is just another PR stunt by BALPA, the British Airways pilots [sic] union”, and calling BALPA’s general secretary “foolish”.

And it might be thought that Ryanair were confident of seeing off the Anderson case, especially as they followed up with “Ryanair looks forward to meeting and defeating these latest baseless claims by BALPA”. So how did the Employment Tribunal go?

Well, it didn’t. Ryanair, despite all the bluster, settled with Anderson and BALPA, rather than face the Tribunal. The payout, at just over half a year’s pay, may not look that great, but getting anything out of Ryanair is an achievement. The fact that the carrier has not trumpeted the event on its website tells you who won this one.

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