Ryanair's Dublin-based pilots are not prepared to ballot on the airline's pay offer which they describe as a "company-imposed strings-attached" pay package, according to their union Fórsa.

Ryanair has criticised Fórsa - to which the Irish Airline Pilots Association is affiliated - for refusing to ballot pilots on their recent offer, which they say would increase pay by around 20%, and place their pay ahead of many rival airlines.

The airline has now by-passed the union and written to individual pilots asking them to sign up to the deal which would run until 2022.

Ryanair says that the 65% of pilots in Dublin not represented by a union have accepted the pay increase, but that the 35% represented by Fórsa/IALPA were refusing to do so.

However, in a statement, Fórsa said that following consultation with pilots, it had been decided unanimously not to ballot Ryanair pilots on the company-imposed pay package in its present form. 

Fórsa noted that the package pre-dated the company's announcement that it would recognise the union, and had not been negotiated with the union, as would be normal when it is recognised for collective bargaining. 

It said that in its present form, the management package explicitly freezes any further pay discussions with the union, which in turn undermines the company's offer to recognise Fórsa for collective bargaining in the airline.

Fórsa says that subsequent correspondence underlined management's view that acceptance of the package rules out future pay negotiations.

Fórsa also describes Ryanair's intention to retain what it calls the company-controlled 'ERC' system of pilot representation at individual bases as incompatible with trade union recognition.

The union has informed Ryanair that it would reconsider putting a package to ballot if it received written assurances that Fórsa was the "sole and exclusive representative body for collective bargaining purposes including pay, terms and conditions" for Ryanair pilots employed in Ireland.

It also wants assurances that accepting the package would not preclude negotiations with Fórsa on members' pay and conditions, the backdating of pay awards following pay negotiations, or any third-party recommendation being implemented.

Fórsa says it wants to quickly conclude a formal recognition agreement before opening talks with the airline on pay and working conditions.

This evening, Ryanair rejected demands made by Fórsa, and reiterated that it would not allow the union to prevent 35% of its Dublin pilots from voting to increase their pay.

It has written to individual pilots allowing them to "individually and confidentially" accept these pay increases by 12 February - adding that if they do so, they will receive the increase in the February payroll run.

Ryanair has also written to Fórsa accusing it of misleading Dublin pilots, stating: "The suggestion that Dublin pilots should not receive a 20% pay increase just because Fórsa didn't negotiate it is ridiculous, at a time when BALPA in the UK have no problem allowing Ryanair's UK pilots to vote for and accept these up to 20% pay increases even though they were not negotiated by BALPA either."

Chief People Officer Eddie Wilson says that until such time as Fórsa/IALPA enters into a recognition agreement with Ryanair, it is not the "lawful representative" of any Ryanair pilots.

He claims that Fórsa had failed to respond to a signed recognition agreement which Ryanair sent to them on 3 January, and that Fórsa had cancelled a planned meeting.

Referring to this week's Ryanair pilot meetings where it was decided not to put the management pay deal to a ballot, Mr Wilson writes: "We pay no heed to an undemocratic 'show of hands' at your meetings this week."

He describes the failure of Fórsa to put the Ryanair pay offer to a ballot of pilots as "undemocratic and contrary to the interests of those pilots".

He rules out any retrospection/backdating or any reference to third parties, saying this would be unfair to over 45 of the airline's 87 bases which have already voted on and received increases.

Mr Wilson states that Ryanair is available to meet with Fórsa and the Irish Ryanair Company Council at any date over the coming weeks to finalise a recognition agreement, but will only meet at the airline's headquarters in Swords, and not at a neutral venue as sought by the union.

Ryanair notes that pilots in Cork, Shannon and 15 UK bases had voted on and accepted what they called these "record" pay increase.

Ryanair also claims that Fórsa's refusal to ballot the airline's pilots is because they are embarrassed that IALPA is currently recommending a pay increase of just 2.5% per year for Aer Lingus pilots, whom they also represent.

Late last year, Ryanair was forced to recognise unions for the first time in its 32-year history in order to avoid a Christmas strike, after it had to cancel 20,000 flights earlier in the year due to a shortage of standby pilots.

Last week Ryanair concluded a recognition agreement with the British pilots' union BALPA. 

However, unions in a number of other countries, including Ireland, have said they are not happy with how the negotiations are proceeding.

Unions from across Europe last week sent a letter to Ryanair demanding a joint meeting with management, a demand the airline has refused.

Meanwhile, the airline has said it carried a total of 9.3 million customers in January, up 6% on the same time last year.