Ryanair pilot sacked for handing our union form wins compensation

March 25, 2011

By Andrew Penman – Mirror – UK

If any firm was going to try to take employment laws back to the dark ages there was always a good chance it would be Ryanair.

Pilot James Anderson, below, was sacked by the airline because he allegedly “compromised safety”.


His offence was to hand a membership form for Britain’s biggest union, Unite, to a stewardess.

And that, you suspect, is what the airline really hated.

At an employment tribunal this week, Ryanair insisted that as the captain, Anderson held a “highly responsible role” and “He must not be distracted in such a way that compromises safety – he did, and was sacked for gross misconduct.”

Really? At the time the flight from Stansted to Mallorca was on automatic pilot at cruising altitude with a co-pilot at the controls.

The tribunal hearing in London was due to last four days. In the event, Ryanair surrendered within hours and must now pay 45-year-old Captain Anderson, who’d worked for the airline for eight years, £40,000 compensation.

In a statement Captain Anderson, who hasn’t had full-time work for two years since being sacked, said: “I am delighted with the result and now just want to get on and look after my family.”

Jim McAuslan, general secretary of the pilots’ union BALPA, said: “The union believes that he should never have been dismissed in these circumstances.”

Ryanair has repeatedly refused to negotiate with unions and an attempt by Balpa to win recognition failed just months before Captain Anderson was sacked.

Brendan Gold, Unite’s national officer, said: “Ryanair has a record of being extremely aggressive towards unions but Unite will continue to support the right of staff working for Ryanair to organise themselves into a trade union.”

The airline responded to the case with the grace you’d expect: “We have no problem with pilots distributing leaflets in their own time, but not during a flight, when they should be attending to the aircraft, going through their checklists and prioritising the safety of Ryanair’s aircraft, and not the membership of failed BA trade unions.”

Ryanair staff, you can download a Unite membership application here.

Go to article in Mirror.co.uk

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