Ryanair pilots and cabin crew are considering a four-year pay agreement negotiated with their union Fórsa providing for pay cuts and work practice reforms in return for reducing the number of redundancies triggered by the Covid-19 emergency.

According to the specialist journal "Industrial Relations News", the proposed "Emergency Agreement in Response to Covid-19 Crisis" deal which runs until 1 July 2024 seeks to avert up to 120 redundancies among directly-employed pilots.

However, pilots would have to accept a 20% pay cut which would be restored in full over the lifetime of the agreement, as well as certain productivity improvements. 

Ryanair undertakes to spread available work as evenly as possible during times of reduced activity, and to retain as many pilots as possible through a combination of part-time, job share, and unpaid leave options as well as maximising use of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme.

The agreement will be reviewed in March 2023, though the Ryanair proposals stress: "For the avoidance of any doubt the potential outcomes of that review could include accelerating, maintaining, or decelerating/delaying the pay restoration in this agreement."

Ryanair has claimed that 75% of directly employed pilots have already accepted the proposals on an individual basis, but Fórsa has criticised the airline for taking what it called an "individualised" approach, insisting it reserved the right to defend terms and conditions.

Ryanair is to address pilot surpluses by opening up applications for "long term, voluntary, unpaid leave with a right to return" for summer 2021, 2022 or 2023 - with the exact number of positions available "subject to operational requirements".

The airline will also seek volunteers for job shares or part-time/special rosters, but the actual arrangements in any particular base will depend on the final aircraft allocations/schedules for that season.

If a surplus at a particular base cannot be addressed through volunteers, "compulsory part time arrangements can be assigned" on an equitable basis to minimise their impact - though if a surplus remains after these steps, Ryanair retains the right to assign unpaid leave.

To deliver increased productivity, each pilot may be rostered up to four additional duty days per year.

Ryanair will also consider any requests for pilots to undertake additional work outside the airline, and will not unreasonably refuse approvals for secondary employment provided it does not create any conflict of interest, or affect the ability to operate to EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Agency) regulatory flight time limitations while operating a reduced roster for Ryanair.

The document cautions: "If there is a further reduction in the flying schedule in Ireland, further redundancies may be required, but Ryanair will work to minimise any job losses while fully complying with Irish legal obligations on information and consultation."

Meanwhile, the proposed Ryanair four year agreement for cabin crew will see pay cuts of up to 10% along with changes in productivity and rostering arrangements.

However, it says that transfers and the recent non-renewal of fixed term contracts mean the current cabin crew surplus which is "significantly less proportionately than the current pilot surplus in Ireland" can be addressed without redundancies.

It also provides that in the event of resurgence of Covid-19 or any other adverse event leading to a reduction in aircraft allocations, there will only be recourse to redundancies as a last resort.

There is also a commitment to continue negotiations with Fórsa on an overall labour agreement to cover matters of concern including annual leave, base transfers and early transition for agency personnel.

As with the pilots, the volume of work available will be spread as evenly as possible among cabin crew.

In the event that the Temporary Wage Subsidy Payment (if applicable) is higher than proportionate pay, the higher amount will be payable.

A scrapped productivity bonus will be replaced by a basic salary increase of €900 a year gross in July 2023, and a similar increase in 2024.

The cabin crew document also states: "To improve productivity, any unauthorised absences will be recovered in subsequent rosters through roster adjustments to scheduled days off if necessary.

"This ensures that the small number of Crew who disrupt the roster and their colleagues unnecessarily at short notice will have the days recovered in the following month's roster."

Ryanair had told unions that it expected to lose over €200m between April and June, and would carry no more than half its original 155 million passenger target for the full year.

It had said the effects of the current environment would last for years to come, and it was crucial to return the business to profitability and rebuild the balance sheet particularly given that some rival airlines, unlike Ryanair, would be availing of state aid.