Ryanair pilots in Portugal have voted in favour of industrial action up to and including strike action, according to the Portuguese Civil Aviation Pilots Union.
The move comes amid mounting discontent among pilots about the airline's refusal to negotiate with their chosen representative bodies, and following the mismanagement of annual leave which led to the cancellation of over 20,000 flights.
In a press release, SPAC says that since the recent cancellations crisis for which Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary "took full responsibility", pilots have made repeated efforts to engage with the company in meaningful and constructive negotiations to address long-standing pilot concerns which have contributed to the management's failure to properly manage the passenger flight schedule.
They say the refusal of Ryanair to engage directly with them has left them with no alternative but to join their National Pilot Associations.
SPAC says that it now represents a "clear majority" of Ryanair pilots based in Portugal, and that last Thursday they met to discuss a mandate to negotiate a Collective Labour Agreement with the company.
At that meeting, a "landslide" vote gave SPAC a mandate to call for industrial action up to and including full strike action.
However, no date has yet been set for any disruption.
It is understood that Ryanair pilots in a number of other jurisdictions who are unhappy with the company’s internal Employee Representative Committee system have also been joining local pilot unions.
However, the Portuguese group is the first to back strike action.
The SPAC statement says that the company has so far refused to even meet with the elected or nominated representatives of their own pilots, preferring to force a representation system on pilots that does not meet their needs, but rather serves to undermine their collective interests and bargaining position.
It concludes by reiterating a request from Ryanair pilots for management to begin negotiations with the pilots' new joint European Employee Representative Council or with national pilot associations immediately.
In a statement, Ryanair said: "We regularly receive threats of industrial action from competitor airline pilot unions from Italy, Portugal and even Aer Lingus pilots occasionally. Both we and our pilots ignore these letters."