The European Cockpit Association (ECA) represents the collective interests of professional pilots at European level, striving for the highest levels of aviation safety and fostering social rights and quality employment. 

This week the ECA reported that within the first three days of 2019, in negotiations with cabin crew unions in Spain, “Ryanair threatened closure of two bases in the Canary Islands” (Tenerife South & Gran Canaria) if the cabin crew did not sign Collective Labour Agreements, CLAs written in the company’s own self interest, by the 18 Jan 2019. Similar threats and ultimatums had been made to pilot unions last year and seriously undermine the pilots’ confidence in Ryanair’s good faith. Pilot unions in several countries have suspended negotiations as a result of such threats hanging in the air.

ECA President Jon Horne says “We see base closures and downsizing used by Ryanair as the ‘Bogeyman’ to push employees into submission – no strikes, no disputes, no hard negotiations, just accept our ‘deal’”.

“Ryanair has a history of this behaviour, with the result of alienating its employees. Maybe management has forgotten already that this ‘new Ryanair’ is supposed to be a better version of itself? Whatever the reason, such behaviour is not acceptable and shows a complete disregard for any form of normal industrial relations, contradicting its own claims of establishing positive relations with pilot (and cabin crew) unions.”

The threats of base closures and downsizing have been used previously on a number of occasions, say the ECA in an official statement.

“Ryanair’s failure to learn how to engage in normal industrial relations practices could be a significant destabilising force in 2019,” says ECA Secretary General Philip von Schöppenthau. “Does Ryanair realise the impact on crews’ lives and families in those bases? It is time for Ryanair – and its shareholders – to consider how such ‘weaponising’ of base closures is compatible with claims of establishing positive union relations and with their social dialogue and crew retention strategy. In our view, it is simply counter-productive and unsustainable.”