Strike action ballot by pilots was unlawful, Ryanair claims

Ryanair has argued in Dublin’s High Court that balloted strike action from some of their pilots was unlawful.

The High Court in Dublin is hearing arguments from a major Irish pilots’ union and Ryanair in a debate over proposed strike action.

The airline is seeking an order against Forsa, which is the parent union of the Irish Airline Pilots Association (IALPA), in a dispute over pay and conditions.

Forsa is contesting the airline’s application for an injunction preventing around 180 pilots based in Ireland from going on a 48-hour strike from midnight on Thursday.

Justice Denis McDonald began hearing arguments on Monday from Ryanair’s legal team Martin Hayden SC.

The airline claims strike action would be in breach of an agreement both parties signed up to in the summer of 2018 through mediation in the Workplace Relations Commission through then-chairman Kieran Mulvey.

The airline also argues that Forsa’s ballot and the subsequent notice of strike action was unlawful, and that the 2018 agreement is a “binding conclusion”.

Mr Hayden told the court that Forsa has not actually quantified what it is claiming for to the airline, despite the fact they were supposed to confirm such information before preparing ballots for strike action.

Mr Hayden said the strike would not only affect Ryanair as a company, but many customers.

“If I could say this, this is ultimately a pay request … that the go-to moment is a strike, it’s a disproportionate response,” he said.

Marguerite Bolger SC is appearing for the defendants.

Forsa says 94% of its members who took part in the vote chose to back a strike.

Only pilots directly employed by Ryanair took part in the ballot, with those on agency contracts not eligible to vote.

If strike action does go ahead, only those with Ryanair contracts will take part and pilots on different contracts will continue to work as normal.

It is predicted that any industrial action will cause huge disruption during the busy summer holiday period.

The hearing is expected to last for most of the day.

Meanwhile, the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) said on Monday that because Ryanair has “wasted time with unnecessary court action”, their chance to resolve the dispute involving their pilots has been lost.

Ryanair is seeking a High Court injunction on Wednesday in England to stop strike action by UK Ryanair pilots.

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