The concerning truths behind working at Ryanair

The concerning truths behind working at Ryanair

The embattled budget airline Ryanair, who recently announced the cancellation of 2,100 flights due to a shortage of crew, is now facing threats of more cancellations as several pilots reject cash bonuses to work extra days.

Ryanair offered pilots a one-off bonus of up to £12,000 to prevent further cancellations, meaning pilots would have to give up their holidays. However, The Guardian has obtained a draft letter signed by Ryanair pilots from across Europe, rejecting the offer and warning they will now “work to rule”.

The letter circulating at Ryanair bases across Europe states that pilots are rescinding the goodwill that they have offered to the company for many years, including working days off and coming in early, and now they will work to rule, refusing to go beyond the terms of their contracts.

The disaster, which has left 315,000 passengers grounded, was caused by a “messing up” of the schedule that manages pilots’ time off.

Many pilots and cabin crew are employed via agencies on zero-hour contracts, and working to rule could run the risk of being fired. However, one pilot familiar with the discussions said that Ryanair aren’t in a “position to fire pilots because it would exacerbate their problem,” – The Guardian reports.

A recent Daily Mirror investigation revealed that one pilot said the zero-hour contracts pose a safety issue: “The starting salary is very low in comparison to other airlines and is topped up by pay for flying hours. This is a safety issue because if you are a captain or a first officer, self-employed or on a zero-hours contract, it encourages you to go work when you are ill as you need to get paid.”

He added that pilots have to pay for their own uniforms and have to bring their own food and water on flights.

A British pilot added that “enough is enough”. He told the Mirror: “We’ve been offered £12,000 extra to work to help solve the cancellation chaos but most of us can’t or won’t take it. The goodwill has dried up – 140 pilots joined Norwegian Air last year and EasyJet are recruiting from Ryanair too.

“It is not uncommon to carry out 12 hours of duty but only have flown for six. You’re only paid for the time in the air. On a basic salary, you rely on the flight hours on top that pay an average £40 a hour.”

In defence, Kenny Jacobs, Ryanair’s Chief Marketing Officer, said: “We don’t operate so-called “zero-hour” contracts. Pilots are by law restricted to flying less than 900 hours per year (just 18 hours per week) and on a sample roster, a pilot typically works four days on, followed by three days off.”

The Guardian reports that it is expected that the pilots will demand that Ryanair offers them local contracts complete with full employee rights under the employment law in the country where they are based.

“The continued erosion of the pilots’ terms and conditions over the past 10 to 15 years has to be not only stopped but reversed,” the letter says.

At the time of reporting, Ryanair did not return a request from The Guardian for comment.

The Mirror investigation also found that cabin crew feel forced to use pushy sales techniques on flights to meet targets, or face disciplinary action. One crew member said: “We have targets including duty free, scratch cards and food. If we didn’t sell enough we have to explain why. When you’re bottom of the monthly sales chart you get a letter asking you to improve your performance or they’ll reconsider your position.”

In a memo seen by the Mirror, all crew were told they “must sell every day: one perfume, one meal deal and one item of fresh food and eight scratch cards.” It warned that “the above sales will be closely monitored”, and anyone “not reaching their targets daily will be met with by their supervisor and further action taken.”

Image courtesy of 2017 Ryanair

Comments (3)

  • Sir
    Thu, 21 Sep 2017 9:48pm BST
    Oh, Frequant (sic) Flyer - if only HR Grapevine had a "Like" button - you have hit the nail on the head !
  • Sir
    Thu, 21 Sep 2017 1:28pm BST
    I think it's about time the market rid itself of this exploitative employer - Ryanair is best left to go bust, leaving staff free to join other carriers who, hopefully, will treat their staff better.
    Cheap flights come at a cost - we've finally found out what that cost is.
  • A frequant flyer
    A frequant flyer
    Thu, 21 Sep 2017 1:02pm BST
    I'm sorry but people can't have it both ways. You pay £10 for a flight and of course the employees are going to have a tough time. Ryanair is the airline equivalent of buying £5 jeans from Primark and complaining over employee working conditions in Cambodia.

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