Michael O'Leary: robust approach

In the middle of a tense stand-off between Ryanair and its Dublin-based pilots over joining a union, chief executive Michael O'Leary told the pilots "if they wanted a f**king war they should put on their hard hats and he would give them a war", according to evidence presented at an unfair-dismissal case published last week.

O'Leary's robust approach to the battle between the lowfares airline and the pilots' union Ialpa was revealed in an unsuccessful constructive dismissal case taken by former Ryanair pilot and union member Joe Peard against the airline.

In evidence, Peard said O'Leary arrived late at a November 2004 meeting in Ryanair HQ at the height of the union recognition battle and "sat in silence".

When the chief pilot was finished addressing the pilots, "the chief executive launched into an angry diatribe against pilots".

"The chief executive told them he was sick of hearing them working in Siberian Saltmines and to go and get a job elsewhere," Peard told the tribunal.

He said he was previously told by another person from the company's personnel department that they would secure promotion within three years "as long as they keep their heads below the parapet".

"But if they stuck their heads up they would blow them off," Peard claimed they were told.

As the battle between Ialpa and O'Leary reached fever pitch – a battle which ended up in the Supreme Court – pilots were told they would no longer be provided with "water, tea or coffee on board the aircraft", Peard claimed.

Pilots were also told they now had to pay for their compulsory medical check ups which cost hundreds of euro.

Peard claimed he was victimised by Ryanair in that he was denied promotion and argued this was because he refused to drop a number of claims against the company.

Ryanair denied this was the case and argued the Ialpa was using Peard to get at the company. While Peard was a good pilot, nobody has a right to promotion, said the airline.

The tribunal backed Ryan­air's arguments saying if the airline refused promotion to an employee because they had claims against the company, they "were within their legal rights to do so".

The tribunal also found it "astonishing" that Peard was unable to give any factual details of the claims he had against Ryanair.

Peard left Ryanair in 2007 and took up a job with Emirates Airlines where he still works today