Dear pilot colleagues,
Thank you for the many hundreds of messages of support you have sent me over the last three days. I have been overwhelmed and humbled by the strength of your response, both individually and collectively.
After I received your original messages, some confusion arose about putting names on the letter and also about how many names should be collected before any names were attached. From my ten years experience in Ryanair, I have concerns about revealing anyone’s name to the company, even where you have given me specific permission to do so. Hundreds of your messages allow me to attach your names without any further conditions. It is my intention to do just that at the appropriate time. However, others have authorised me to attach their names but only if a certain total number of support letters are received. I also have a duty of care to those individuals and do not want to do anything that would inadvertently compromise their identities without their direct consent. For that reason I have decided to hold off on using any pilots’ names for the moment, to avoid confusion and possible errors on my part.
I believe it is possible to meet my obligation to both groups, something I take very seriously. I have written to Michael O’Leary to indicate the response I have received from you. I have emphasised both the courage and fear aspects of all of the messages I have received. I have again called on him to provide the same level of protections to any pilot co-signing my letter as I have requested for any pilot taking a representative role in the pilot group. As you know he has not responded to me directly yet, but has done so through the media. I attach a copy of my letter to him for your information. Thank you again for your support and I hope all of your efforts together will bring a better future for everyone in Ryanair.
Captain Imelda Comer
Mr. Michael O’Leary
CC Mr. Eddie Wilson
Mr. Diramuid Rogers
Mr. Declan Ryan.
16th October 2017
Dear Mr. O’Leary,
I note that you have not replied to my letter of 11th October. For clarity, I will correspond with you through email using your email@example.com address. I will also copy your senior managers in the expectation that if you do not use email as you have claimed in the past, they will pass on the message to you.
The response you issued to the media was both predictable and misleading. From experience, I am not surprised. I have identified myself in good faith. I have been a Ryanair pilot for over ten years, yet you refuse to engage with me, so you make a lie of your own claims to only speak directly with your own pilots. My contract status is irrelevant, but it suits your purpose to ignore your own pilots when they attempt to promote their collective interests. Contrary to your misleading assertions, I can assure you again that the EERC is entirely comprised of Ryanair pilots. Your reference to any other airlines or pilot groups is irrelevant and clearly self-serving. You can easily verify the status of EERC members as Ryanair pilots by simply providing assurances of their safety. But I suspect that will not serve your real purpose.
Unlike your failure to respond to me directly, hundreds of my colleagues have sent me personal messages endorsing my letter. My fellow pilots have asked me to sign their names to the letter and to reissue it to you. They gave me a clear message that they are no longer cowed by an endemic fear culture that you and your management team have cultivated over too many years.
While I applaud their bravery and respect their wishes, I also have a personal duty of care to them. For ten years I experienced the escalation of that fear culture and saw first-hand how it has been achieved. For that reason, I will do everything I can to protect fellow pilots from any retribution that your management team might contemplate.
Your continued refusal to acknowledge the threats that pilots perceive, and your further refusal to provide any assurance to hold safe pilots representing their colleagues, simply justify my concerns. I will withhold their identities until you provide the assurances I previously requested. These assurances are reasonable and straight forward:
1. No legal action will be taken against any EERC member in the performance of their representative work.
2. There will be no scheduling of additional line checks or simulator checks. Any unexpected negative outcome from routine checks will be subject to independent scrutiny/adjudication by an independent third party acceptable to both parties.
3. Any disciplinary action, taken for any reason, will be handled by an independent third party, acceptable to both parties.
4. Representatives’ base will not change unless requested by the pilot involved.
5. Rostered hours per month for representative’s will not be less than their average monthly hours from the year prior to becoming a representative, or the average hours for their base (whichever is higher). In the meantime it will be pointed that the EERC or reps will not suffer any kind of continuous unfavorable duties.
6. Ryanair will provide rostered time off (paid) to engage in representative activities on behalf of Ryanair pilots.
7. EERC members will NOT be assigned unpaid leave, unless they request it.
8. These conditions will apply for at least one year following the cessation of being a Representative.
You have been offered a genuine opportunity to open a constructive dialogue with a group of Ryanair pilots, representing the views of the whole pilot body. Yet you have publicly dismissed out of hand their reasonable and constructive approach. Unfortunately you have again chosen to disparage the pilot body and their representatives, while you continue to impose your own representation model that has failed both pilots and the company.
From the hundreds of responses I received from fellow pilots, it is clear that the same assurances are needed for more than just the pilots’ representatives. Experience tells us we should ask for no less.
These assurances need to apply to pilots representing their colleagues at all levels: base, national, regional and EERC. They also need to apply to any pilot showing explicit support for their representatives. These eight assurances would be a tangible indication that your previous disparaging remarks about pilots were genuinely withdrawn. However, actions speak louder than words, so I offer you an opportunity to provide a meaningful and positive way to begin to change a negative fear culture into one of respect for each other. Providing these assurances will enable everyone to move on quickly to a constructive dialogue that the company urgently needs, to resolve the many problems we face together.
Captain Imelda Comer