Ryanair Pilots Push Back Against Atypical Employment

Engaging with our international partners to advance the airline piloting profession and ensure that the global aviation system operates under one level of safety has been at the heart of ALPA’s mission since the Association helped form the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA) in 1948. In support of this mission, ALPA is standing in unity with IFALPA and other pilot organizations around the world to assist the pilots of Ryanair in their quest to achieve strong labor agreements that enhance job security, along with working conditions, pay, and benefits, and thus contribute significantly to safety.

Ryanair pilots have been fighting for a fair contract against a management that has relied on atypical employment as the cornerstone of airline operations. German-based Ryanair pilots have been successful in removing atypical employment contacts from their country. This business model affects all aspects of a pilot’s employment—safety, collective bargaining, and retirement—and it threatens the global airline industry by whipsawing pilots against each other individually, by base, and by country. This can be seen by developments at Ryanair Buzz in Poland and Ryanair Laudamotion in Austria. Recently, Ryanair pilots based in Spain and the United Kingdom have conducted industrial action in an effort to obtain fair pay, scheduling, and retirement benefits.

This employment scheme can take on different forms: pilots working under individual temporary contracts with an airline, through an employment agency, or as a purportedly “self-employed” individual. As a result, Ryanair pilots lack a single legal framework to govern their complex employment arrangements—a situation that allows the airline to exploit pilots when negotiating a collective bargaining agreement.

ALPA’s 63,000 pilots know that strong labor agreements boost safety and security for our passengers, crews, and cargo. Pilots around the world are speaking out, and we stand shoulder to shoulder with Ryanair pilots, who’ve demonstrated that they won’t be divided.

Ryanair pilots are fighting for the future of the piloting profession and working to ensure that commercial interests never undermine safety. Union solidarity and worker dignity know no borders or boundaries. The indisputable power of union representation—along with the full engagement of union members—is the solution for the world’s pilots as we work together to improve the safety of our industry, the dignity of our work, and the future of our profession.

Visit IFALPA on Facebook to share the federation’s video on why #RyanAirMustChange and help show our colleagues that they’re not alone.

This article was originally published in the October 2019 issue of Air Line Pilot.

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