US share­hold­ers sue Ryanair over in­dus­trial dis­putes

The Irish Times - Business - - FRONT PAGE - BARRY O’HAL­LO­RAN

US share­hold­ers are su­ing Ryanair and chief ex­ec­u­tive Michael O’Leary for mak­ing “false and mis­lead­ing state­ments” about the air­line’s in­dus­trial re­la­tions woes.

Ryanair en­dured strikes by pi­lots and cabin crew dur­ing the sum­mer as newly recog­nised unions sought changes in work­ers’ con­di­tions.

A share­holder, City of Birm­ing­ham Fire­men’s and Po­lice­men’s Sup­ple­men­tal Pen­sion Sys­tem, yes­ter­day filed pa­pers in a New York court on be­half of it­self and other in­vestors, seek­ing dam­ages against the com­pany and Mr O’Leary.

The pen­sion fund, based in Birm­ing­ham, Alabama, claims that be­tween May 30th, 2017, and Septem­ber 28th, 2018, Ryanair and Mr O’Leary made “false and mis­lead­ing state­ments” about re­la­tions with work­ers and unions that ar­ti­fi­cially in­flated the car­rier’s share price.

Labour re­la­tions

The pa­pers ar­gue that Ryanair and Mr O’Leary failed to re­veal in com­pany state­ments and dis­cus­sions with in­dus­try an­a­lysts that labour re­la­tions were de­te­ri­o­rat­ing. The fil­ing main­tains that Ryanair was un­able to hire or keep enough pi­lots to meet ex­pected de­mand in the face of strikes, in­creas­ing the risk of can­cel­la­tions; and that it needed to in­crease pay and ben­e­fits sig­nif­i­cantly more than a €100 mil­lion es­ti­mate in or­der to re­cruit and re­tain staff. The in­vestor claims that when the cost of its in­dus­trial-re­la­tions prob­lems prompted Ryanair to warn on Oc­to­ber 1st that prof­its could fall below ex­pec­ta­tions, its Amer­i­can de­posi­tary shares had dropped 15 per cent to $80.93 (€70.67) when New York’s Nas­daq mar­ket closed.

Ryanair vowed to vig­or­ously “de­fend and de­feat these bo­gus am­bu­lance chaser claims”, which it said had no ba­sis in re­al­ity.

“Con­trary to these in­vented claims, Ryanair has ex­pe­ri­enced very lit­tle in­dus­trial ac­tion this year from its staff,” the air­line ar­gued.

Ryanair said that over eight days of strikes, it op­er­ated more than 90 per cent of its sched­ule with min­i­mal dis­rup­tions.

The com­pany blamed air traf­fic con­trol staff short­ages and strikes for most of its flight dis­rup­tions and said this af­fected all EU air­lines.

Michael O’Leary: US pen­sion fund seek­ing dam­ages from him

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