ETF and ITF call for new Ryanair chairman

4 Sep 2018

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) are calling for shareholders to oppose the re-election of Ryanair chairman David Bonderman and overhaul the company’s corporate governance practices.

Back in December the company finally announced that it would recognise trade unions for the first time. Progress since then has been erratic and contradictory, with Ryanair signing recognition deals in some countries while leaving workers no choice but to take industrial action in others.

Ryanair still has a long way to go in order to build a mature relationship with unions, improve its employment practices and ensure fair conditions for its employees.

The low-fare model has made aviation accessible to all and has provided thousands of jobs both directly and indirectly. In other low-fare airlines, companies and unions work closely to ensure the best product for passengers and best conditions for workers. To date Ryanair has failed to build such a relationship with workers and unions.

ITF, ETF and their affiliate unions have lost confidence in the ability of the current Ryanair leadership to make the transition to a sustainable, unionised business model. They are therefore calling for shareholders to oppose the re-election of the company chairman at the forthcoming AGM and to appoint an independent chair as successor.

Mr Bonderman has chaired Ryanair since 1996, overseeing a corporate culture which for two decades was virulently anti-union. If Ryanair is serious about engaging with workers and unions then the time has come for fresh leadership. ITF and ETF are aware from discussions with Ryanair shareholders that a number also have concerns about the company’s corporate governance.

Stephen Cotton, ITF General Secretary, said: “In recent months Ryanair has shown its immaturity in industrial relations. At the end of last year ITF, ETF and our affiliates welcomed the prospect of a new era of cooperation with the company. Instead, we have seen the stalling, antagonism and underhanded tactics continue.”

“We believe that these problems partly stem from a seriously antiquated corporate governance model. Keeping the same chair for over two decades and installing former Ryanair executives as ‘independent’ non-executives does not lend itself to proper scrutiny and challenge in the boardroom.”

Eduardo Chagas, ETF General Secretary, said: “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.”

“Ryanair’s business model is built on social dumping and the exploitation of workers. Unions standing together to fight such behaviour is at the heart of our Fair Transport Europe campaign. A different Ryanair is in reach, but a change in leadership is a vital step to shake off the company’s legacy of bad behaviour.”


Press enquiries should be directed to James Bartholomeusz, ITF Campaigns Assistant, at or +44 (0) 7715 074 293. James will be able to arrange comment from ITF and ETF spokespeople.


1. The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) creates borderless solidarity among transport workers in every corner of the globe. It supports 670 affiliate trade unions in 140 countries, representing 19.7 million workers.

2. The European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) embraces transport trade unions from the European Union, the European Economic Area and Central and Eastern European countries. The ETF represents more than five million transport workers from more than 230 transport unions and 42 European countries.

3. ITF and ETF have written to Ryanair shareholders asking for them to vote against the re-election of David Bonderman as chairman at the company’s AGM on 20 September. The letter can be read here.