Cut out the PR speak and the clever legally protective rationale and RyanAir, who signed Union recognition agreements with staff and pilots in most west European markets, is striking back.
Fed up with rolling pilot strikes – mostly brought on by its own pay and conditions – the airline has decided to cut 300 jobs at Dublin and reallocate 14 aircraft to “busier markets such as Poland”, leaving just 20 at Dublin.
There seems no doubt that the company is aiming to break the strikers through the most ruthless means necessary while covering its back through the re-allocations that can’t be challenged.
RyanAir has made a rod for its own back. It’s low cost operations have been possible on a period of low employment where jobs were scarce. Now they’re not.
The company charges staff for training, their uniforms, and cabin crew are expected to do far more and put up with much more than your average airline, even in the low cost market. Pay is as low as the airline can make it – rarely more than the minimum it can get away with.
It’s true that low cost travel has its downside. Staff costs are one of the hardest things to control, along with fuel. Yet the fact remains that the attraction of the cabin crew role usually has a backlog of people waiting to apply. Churn is high – however as British Airways, which domestically and in Europe is pretty much a low cost operation now, can prove.
BA often has as many as 12,000 people on their wait list and operates a permanent training facility for new crew. Low pay, harsh hours and strict discipline often see staff last no more than six months to a year – but there are always more waiting willing to give it a go.
As long as airlines like RyanAir and so on have crews lined up to replace leavers, the problem won’t go away. Pilots though are much harder to find, a problem that’s not getting any better. It seems the solution is get them to leave voluntarily and become someone else’s problem, then hire someone new, despite the cost.