Tension between Ryanair and its workforce has ratcheted up another notch, following the Irish pilots’ union’s decision to strike for a fourth day on Aug. 3.

The union, Fórsa, said July 25 that pilots who are members of the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (IALPA) would stop work Aug. 3, after the Irish LCC issued “protective notice” letters to some 300 of its workforce. The union added that further industrial action could follow.

Under Irish labor law, protective notice informs employees their positions may be under threat, specifying a potential contract-end date unless circumstances change.

Fórsa said it believed the issuing of protective notices was intended to pressurize staff and that the “provocative act” was likely to worsen relationships between the airline and its workforce.

“Ryanair’s unnecessary decision to issue protective notice 300 of its staff today is reckless and unnecessary, and demonstrates management’s unwillingness and/or inability to implement the airline’s declared intention to agree working conditions with its staff by negotiating with their chosen trade union representatives,” it said.

Ryanair announced July 25 that it would cut routes to and from Dublin, and move at least six of its Boeing 737-800 fleet from the Irish capital to Poland, to be used by its new local charter airline there, Ryanair Sun.

However, Fórsa noted, “It is normal practice for airlines to reduce activity in the winter months. In light of this—and of Ryanair’s recent difficulty in recruiting and retaining enough pilots to fulfill its schedules—it remains unclear if todays’ provocative move heralds a significant change in normal practice.”

For its part, Ryanair said in a Twitter posting July 26 that the union had rejected its offer of talks the previous day to discuss the potential job and route losses, and had instead called the Aug. 3 strike.

As a result, “We have regrettably canceled just 20 (7%) of our scheduled 300 planned flights to/from Ireland next Friday [Aug. 3].” All 3,500 affected passengers had been contacted and offered alternative arrangements or refunds, the airline said.

Fórsa said that it “remains available for talks, and believes it is possible to reach an agreement on the issues in dispute through negotiations.”

It urged Ryanair “to consider the use of independent third-party mediation, as has frequently been suggested by Fórsa, to help the parties reach a settlement that addresses pilots’ reasonable issues, while preserving jobs and growth in the company and its Irish bases.”

The developments came as the airline suffered a second consecutive day of strikes by cabin crew.

Alan Dron alandron@adepteditorial.com