Stobart Air cabin crew are to ballot for industrial action in a dispute over union recognition rights.

Their union Forsa says Stobart Air, which is a non-union company, has refused to negotiate with it on the pay and working conditions of members.

It says it represents up to three quarters of around 130 directly employed cabin crew personnel who are based in Dublin and Cork.

The union says a recent pay proposal fell short of recent airline industry norms, and had been rejected by more than two to one. 

Forsa says that if the ballot of directly employed members is passed, it will give the union a legal mandate for industrial action if the company were to discipline any crew member because they had joined the union, or participated in an industrial dispute. 

It said that the dispute had been referred to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), but claimed Stobart Air had refused a WRC invitation to talks.

The cabin crew ballot will conclude on Wednesday week, 10 April.

Forsa official Ashley Connolly said cabin crew staff were annoyed and frustrated at the company's refusal to engage with the union, saying they were denying workers' access to a service that other airlines accepted as normal practice and sound industrial relations.

A Stobart Air spokesperson said the company has always maintained an engaged and collaborative relationship with all staff, including cabin crew, at the airline.

It said that a 2016 pay agreement was agreed fully in collaboration with staff and the SACG (Stobart Air Crew Group) and was in place until 2019.

The spokesperson said discussions to put in place a successor agreement has been under way since last year and had progressed to a point where the SACG had made a positive recommendation to cabin crew.

She said that given this progress, and ongoing engagement, this sudden development was particularly surprising.

She added that the company remains committed to engagement with staff and will continue to engage to reach agreement on this matter over the coming period.