Ryanair workers raise their voice

Our campaigns for fair pay and conditions at Ryanair

Related to: Civil Aviation, Ryanair

The emergence of budget airlines is one of the biggest trends in European aviation over the past decades. However, the ultra-low-cost model benefits neither passengers nor aviation workers. One company above all represents the worst aspects of this model: Ryanair. That is why Ryanair is the focus of our campaigns to make European aviation fair again!

Ryanair’s market share has grown rapidly, and it is now the largest airline in Europe. Sadly, its low fares are partly built on the low pay and poor conditions facing its workers. The company shops around for the weakest contracts in the EU single market, and uses outsourced labour through agencies and bogus self-employment schemes. To keep labour costs low, Ryanair’s strategy is aggressive union busting and hostility to the rights of workers to organise, speak up and seek representation free from victimisation and reprisal.

Ryanair must change. Low cost does not have to mean exploitation. Therefore, ETF demands that Ryanair:

  • Recognises workers’ organisations and trade unions in all countries where it employs personnel.
  • Launches a process of collective bargaining.
  • Respects the permanent work base principle and changes workers’ contracts accordingly.
  • Explicitly recognises the national law and jurisdiction of the country a worker is based in their contract.

ETF has been working to give Ryanair employees a collective voice since 2005, when we set out proposals based on ILO conventions and EU fundamental rights for workers. Since 2017 we have been fighting alongside the International Transport Workers Federation through our joint campaign Cabin Crew United https://www.cabincrewunited.org/

One day after we launched this campaign Ryanair announce that they would recognise pilot unions for the first time in its 30-year history. With further prompting from ITF and ETF, the airline confirmed that it would also recognise unions representing all cabin crew and ground staff.

The months since then have seen slow progress. Ryanair has signed recognition agreements in some countries, while continuing to union bust in others. This has led some of our affiliate unions to call strikes. In July 2018, ITF and ETF helped to host the Ryanair Crew Summit, where Ryanair workers from across Europe drafted their Ryanair Crew Charter setting out the changes that Ryanair must make to bring it in line with comparable employers. The charter contains demands on economic conditions, safety and rostering, free water, a fair and supportive work culture, agency employment, the right to sick pay and sales targets.

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The time has come for Mr Bonderman to go. It is hard to see how a business like Ryanair can move on when its chairman is stuck in the last century.

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