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Friday 16 August 2013

Ryanair Does Not Understand Unions

Following last week’s Channel 4 Dispatches edition, which not for the first time focused on the activities of Ryanair, the Millwall of air carriers (No-one likes us, we don’t care), and the concerns expressed by one senior pilot, Michael O’Leary and his merry men have sacked the individual concerned and suggested that they have commenced legal action against him.
You want to form a pilots' Union?

But, as I pointed out after the broadcast, while it is understandable for any air carrier to be sensitive to suggestions regarding the safety of their operations, there have been a number of incidents in the recent past involving Ryanair aircraft that give the appearance of having been avoidable. The impression is given that pilots are paying rather more attention to saving time than may be wise.

Allied to that is the resistance of Ryanair management to the formation of a pilots’ Union, that is, a Union which is independent of the company. Despite this, the Ryanair Pilot Group (RPG) has been formed, and the pilot sacked this week, John Goss, was a member of its interim council. Goss has not commented further, and will not until he has taken his own legal advice.

And Ryanair’s statement following the dismissal was typically bullish: “Ryanair rejected the false and defamatory claims made by the Channel 4 Dispatches programme which wrongly impugn and smear Ryanair's outstanding 29-year safety record based on nothing more than anonymous hearsay claims made by individuals whose identity was concealed, and/or by representatives of pilot unions of Ryanair's competitor airlines masquerading as a non-Ryanair Pilot Group”.

The company also asserted that “We will not allow a Ryanair employee to defame our safety on national television just three weeks after he confirmed in writing to Ryanair that he had no concerns with safety and no reason to make any confidential safety report to either the IAA (Irish Aviation Authority) or Ryanair”.

And, as Jon Stewart might have said, two things here. One, as I pointed out earlier this week, nobody is dissenting from the carrier’s 29 year safety record – but all concerned want to keep it that way. And two, the fact that RPG has been formed should not be the signal for threats and confrontational language, but a recognition that not all is well within the company’s workforce.

Trades Unions did not appear, and nor do they continue to play a role in the workplace, just to thwart the ambitions of management (and their so-called “right to manage”, which all too often means “trample over anyone of inconvenient thought”). RPG’s formation is a sign that pilots have concerns. If O’Leary and his fellow managers want the best outcome, they should cease the threats and talk to RPG.

That might not be the Ryanair way. But it is the only sensible way right now.

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