Our campaigns for fair pay and conditions at 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:
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.
Legal battles against exploitation at Ryanair
Ryanair Crew Demands
On 3 December, the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism held a hearing on the future of low-cost travel in Europe. ETF’s acting General Secretary Livia Spera presented the everyday reality of those working for low-cost airlines.
A Dutch court has ruled that Ryanair must compensate workers made redundant by the closure of its base at Eindhoven Airport last year.
Union leaders say job cuts announced by Ryanair are mainly about intimidating its workforce and have little to do with operational justifications.
The budget airline is creating various subsidiaries. Aircraft will be moved from France, Germany and Italy to the newly launched Malta Air. These plans must not undermine the better conditions which unions have won from Ryanair in recent months. We met the Maltese Tourism Ministry to set out our position.
A Belgian court has ruled that Ryanair cabin crew are subject to national labour law. This decision will have wide-ranging consequences for European aviation, and marks a real victory in our campaign against social dumping in Europe’s skies.
ETF and ITF wrote to the candidates in the European Parliament elections to raise awareness of our campaign for better working conditions at Ryanair and to ask them to make a real difference to the lives of Ryanair workers during their mandate.
We joined a group of activist workers meeting MEPs to tell them about their continuing struggles at the airline.
One year ago, Ryanair announced that it would recognise unions for the first time. But there is still a long way to go. Today, our new report with the ITF examines the progress the airline has made and what remains to be done.
ETF joins expert discussion on the roots of industrial unrest at Ryanair.