Ryanair strike may still go ahead despite airline's union offer

Ryanair

The Ireland pilots were to be joined in their action by Portugal, while pilots in Germany, Italy and Spain had all said that were considering undertaking industrial action.

Investors also took fright at the potentially major change to the business model at Europe's largest low-priced carrier, with Ryanair shares tumbling as much as 9 percent to 14.90 euros.

Unions were yet to give their response but Ryanair's chief executive, Michael O'Leary, said: "Christmas flights are very important to our customers and we wish to remove any worry or concern that they may be disrupted by pilot industrial action next week". He was once quoted as saying he would rather cut off his own hand than recognise unions.

It adds that British and Italian unions have already agreed to meetings with the airline, and have called off the threatened strike in Italy.

The pilots mobilised after Ryanair in September announced the cancellation of around 20,000 flights, which it blamed on a lack of standby pilots due to a failure in its rostering following a rule change by Irish regulators.

The carrier said it would recognise these unions "as the representative body for pilots in Ryanair in each of these countries, as long as they establish committees of Ryanair pilots to deal with Ryanair issues, as Ryanair will not engage with pilots who fly for competitor airlines in Ireland or elsewhere".

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Impact trade union spokesman Bernard Harbor said the union wanted to meet before Wednesday to confirm the airline was committed to engaging with staff and to outline how the recognition of unions would work.

The German pilots union VC also welcomed the news: "This was always about getting them to negotiate, not about strikes", it said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear if Ryanair's concession would be enough to stop a 24-hour stoppage by pilots in Ireland and Portugal on December 20.

A STRIKE OF Ryanair pilots is set to go ahead next week unless company management meet with the Impact union before it is scheduled. Other unions said they were considering their position.

Ryanair and the pilots union IALPA seem to be locked in a stand off, just days ahead of a planned strike by some Irish-based pilots.

Management will, though, be open to talking to pilots about their demand to introduce local contracts rather than the Irish contracts used across Ryanair's European bases.

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