Union maintains strike threat after Ryanair talks

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Dublin (AFP)

A trade union representing Ryanair pilots insisted Wednesday it would not rule out strikes if the Irish no-frills airline did not give it formal recognition within 24 hours.

It came after Ryanair held its first talks with pilots' representatives on Tuesday as the short-haul carrier takes the first steps towards union recognition.

Ryanair on Friday offered to recognise unions but with conditions, prompting the suspension of strike action planned over the festive period.

But the Impact trade union has said there could still be strikes following the first talks on Tuesday.

"We need to get a recognition agreement concluded" by 1200 GMT Thursday, Impact spokesman Bernard Harbor told Irish national broadcaster RTE.

He said there were "mixed messages coming from the company".

Recognising unions would mark a historic turning point for Ryanair, given that chief executive Michael O'Leary -- in charge since 1994 -- had vehemently opposed any union representation for staff.

The company has said it will also look into recognising union staff who work as cabin crew.

Ryanair said O'Leary had told Impact that if pilots were going to strike to test the company's resolve, they should not do it over the Christmas period, disrupting customers across Europe.

Ryanair said Tuesday's meeting with its Irish pilots union council and their union representatives had been "positive and successful".

The talks in Dublin received a cautious response from unions Impact and the Irish Air Line Pilots' Association.

"While Ryanair management said they recognised Impact/IALPA for collective bargaining purposes at this evening's meeting, they said they were unable to give the union a piece of paper to confirm this.

"This is disappointing given all that's been said in the media over the last five days," they said in a joint statement.

The Dublin meeting marks the opening of a season of talks for Ryanair, which will meet German and Portuguese pilots this week before other appointments around Europe in early 2018.

Pilots in Italy and Portugal have also halted recently threatened walk-outs after Ryanair said it would recognise unions for the first time in the airline's history.

O'Leary faced pressure after the airline was forced to cancel thousands of flights over botched holiday scheduling.

The fiasco triggered pilots' demands for better working conditions and representation, with some departing for other carriers.

Meanwhile in Britain, Ryanair is to be investigated by two powerful parliamentary committees following damning allegations over employee working conditions.

MPs Frank Field and Rachel Reeves, chairs of the Work and Pensions and Business select committees respectively, have written to O'Leary demanding answers amid claims of staff being underpaid, having to pay for their own uniforms and incurring fees when they leave.