Ryanair faces le­gal ac­tion from pi­lots

The Irish Times - Business - - BUSINESS PROPERTY - BARRY O’HALLORAN

Ryanair is fac­ing le­gal ac­tion from more than 30 pi­lots who have filed pro­ceed­ings against the air­line in the High Court.

The Ir­ish car­rier is in talks with pi­lot trade unions across Europe fol­low­ing its pledge late last year to recog­nise or­gan­ised labour.

Sep­a­rately, 37 in­di­vid­u­als have filed cases against the air­line in the High Court. As the plain­tiffs have only taken the first step in bring­ing pro­ceed­ings against the com­pany, there is lit­tle de­tail avail­able. How­ever, it is un­der­stood the peo­ple in­volved are Ryanair pi­lots who are tak­ing ac­tion against the air­line re­lat­ing to their em­ploy­ment.

Ryanair said last it did not com­ment on pend­ing le­gal ac­tions. Trade unions rep­re­sent­ing pi­lots pointed out that the cases are be­ing taken by the in­di­vid­u­als them­selves, rather than any labour groups.

The air­line em­ploys pi­lots di­rectly and on con­tract. Its hir­ing prac­tices have drawn fre­quent crit­i­cism from unions and other groups, but Ryanair in­sists it com­plies fully with all laws and reg­u­la­tions.

The air­line hires pi­lots and cabin crews un­der Ir­ish law on the ba­sis they are work­ing on air­craft reg­is­tered in the Repub­lic. How­ever, an­a­lysts ar­gued last year a Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice rul­ing al­low­ing work­ers to take cases to courts most aligned with their in­ter­ests un­der­mined this ap­proach.

Ir­ish con­tracts

Ryanair’s chief ex­ec­u­tive Michael O’Leary re­sponded that the ECJ ver­dict would not change the Ir­ish con­tracts or the struc­ture of the Ir­ish con­tracts and added that it did not threaten to in­crease the air­line’s costs.

The High Court hears cases with a min­i­mum value of more than €75,000, ex­cept for per­sonal in­juries, where the thresh­old is more than €60,000.

Last De­cem­ber, the air­line agreed to recog­nise trade unions af­ter pi­lots in the Repub­lic, Ger­many and Italy threat­ened to strike in the run-up to Christ­mas. The move fol­lowed a con­tro­versy over flight can­cel­la­tions in the au­tumn caused by a mix-up in pi­lots’ hol­i­day ros­ters.

The British Air­line Pi­lots’ As­so­ci­a­tion and An­pac, the Ital­ian equiv­a­lent, have since agreed ba­sic recog­ni­tion deals with the air­line. The Ir­ish Air­line Pi­lots’ As­so­ci­a­tion – part of trade union Fórsa – has yet to agree a deal, al­though it was one of the first to meet Ryanair af­ter the com­pany said it would recog­nise unions.

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