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Industrial Ryanair offers to recognise pilots' unions

BUDGET airline Ryanair is ready to recognise pilots’ unions for the first time, it announced yesterday.

Pilots in Italy organised with the Anpac union suspended a walkout that had been due at 1pm on receipt of the letter from Ryanair, which also went to unions planning strike action in Ireland, Germany, Spain and Portugal as well as Britain’s Balpa.

Chief executive Michael O’Leary said the move was aimed at reassuring passengers who feared their travel plans could be disrupted by industrial action.

“If the best way to achieve this is to talk to our pilots through a recognised union process, then we are prepared to do so,” he conceded.

It’s an abrupt volte-face for the airline, which had faced warnings of legal action from the Fit-Cisl union in Italy for threatening employees with consequences if they dared to take action.

Fit-Cisl said the threat was unconstitutional and the Italian government asked Ryanair to clarify what it meant. Economic Development Minister Carlo Calenda was unimpressed at yesterday’s offer of union recognition, saying: “It’s the minimum, and not enough.”

Irish pilots’ union Ialpa, a section of the Irish Municipal, Public and Civil Trade Union (Impact), also appeared sceptical.

Its members voted by 94 per cent last week to strike on December 20 over the airline’s refusal to recognise it or the European Employee Representative Council, and Ryanair had as recently as Thursday threatened to bring in pilots from outside the Irish Republic to break the strike by staff at Shannon, Cork and Dublin airports.

The union said it was considering the contents of the airline’s letter.

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