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16 flights cancelled as Ryanair pilots hold third 24-hour strike

By Cate McCurry

Dozens of Ryanair's Irish-based pilots have held a third 24-hour strike in an ongoing dispute over working arrangements including annual leave and promotions.

The industrial action led to the cancellation of 16 flights, affecting some 2,500 customers.

The 24-hour stoppage began at 1am yesterday as pilots picketed the airline's headquarters in Swords, Co Dublin.

The budget airline described the strikes as unnecessary and warned that if they continue, there could be job losses.

But trade union Forsa, which represents the pilots, hit out at the company.

A union spokesman said: "This kind of threatening statement is not conducive to building trust and reaching a resolution to the dispute, and Forsa doesn't accept that jobs or expansion in the airline need be put at risk by company management."

The union said pilots seek a "fair and transparent method" to govern base transfers.

"At present, company management has total discretion on transfers, which can see pilots moved to bases thousands of miles from their homes and families. Most other airlines have a fair and transparent criteria, based on seniority, to govern pilot relocations."

Forsa and Ryanair management have met twice in the last two weeks, for some nine hours.

The union said the discussions found common ground on the possibility of establishing a joint working group to thrash out the disputed issues, however the parties couldn't agree on terms of reference for such a group.

In a statement, Ryanair said that it is available to meet Forsa "at any time".

"After three months and two meetings lasting over nine hours, Forsa still haven't responded to our written proposals on seniority, base transfers and annual leave, which addresses their claimed requirements. Sadly Forsa prefer to strike first rather than use strikes as a last resort.

"When Ryanair has already agreed pilot recognition deals in bigger markets like Italy and the UK, clearly it's for Forsa and 25% of the Irish pilots that are causing these problems in Ireland, not Ryanair."

Meanwhile, Ryanair cabin crew in Spain, Portugal, Belgium and Italy are going on strike today and tomorrow leading to the cancellation of 600 flights affecting 100,000 passengers.

Belfast Telegraph

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