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Ryanair disputes BALPA claims of pilot strike support

Ryanair is pressing cockpit association BALPA to abandon a planned strike by pilots, disputing the support for industrial action claimed by the union.

BALPA has authorised the strike action following a ballot, and threatens a two-day stoppage on 22-23 August followed by a three-day stoppage on 2-4 September.

The union says the ballot result showed an 80% vote in favour of a strike based on a 72% turnout.

But Ryanair, which has a substantial UK operation, insists its UK pilots – totalling over 1,250 – have not backed the industrial action.

It formally wrote to BALPA on 7 August stating that only 28% of its UK pilots voted in favour of a strike, with just 36% taking part, and that the company and its pilots need to "work together" for the sake of passengers.

"BALPA do not have significant support for disrupting our customers' holidays at a time when some UK pilots are facing job losses over the coming weeks," it says, reiterating the pressures from Boeing 737 Max delivery delays and the uncertainty over the UK's intended withdrawal from the European Union.

"Any threat of industrial action should now be taken off the table, and BALPA should work with us to preserve UK pilot jobs, not destroy them."

But BALPA argues that Ryanair's historic refusal to recognise unions means the airline "doesn’t understand" how to work with its members, and that it does not have "a number of standard agreements that any union would reasonably expect" in place.

The union is pushing for benefits linked to pensions, loss of licence insurance, and a "transparent" pay structure, it says.

“We have had no formal offer from Ryanair and it is imperative that we resolve this dispute urgently to avoid strike action," states BALPA general secretary Brian Strutton.

"No pilot wants to spoil the public's travel plans but at the moment it seems we have no choice."

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