The prize, whose shortlist also included Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Uber’s Dara Khosrowshahi, was open to a worldwide public vote in the lead-up to the ITUC Congress. The contenders are all top business leaders notorious for their abuses of workers’ rights.
Mr O’Leary topping the vote comes exactly one year after Ryanair announced it would recognise trade unions for the first time. Under immense pressure from workers and unions, and facing serious questions over its corporate governance model and obstacles to future growth, Ryanair finally conceded that unions have a legitimate place in its workplace.
However, while some progress has been made, one year on Ryanair still has a long way to go before it can be considered a fair employer. The vast majority of workers have yet to see any improvements in pay or conditions, and the company continues to pursue unfair employment practices and union-busting tactics in a number of jurisdictions.
Furthermore, Ryanair and Mr O’Leary are being sued in the United States for allegedly misleading investors over the company’s industrial relations, which may have artificially inflated its share price. We will hear next month if Mr O’Leary will be called to appear before a court in New York.
Speaking at the ITUC Congress, ITF general secretary Stephen Cotton said: “Thank you to everyone who voted in the ITUC poll for making the right choice. The ITF, Ryanair workers and their unions will recognise why Michael O’Leary is seen as the worst boss.
“The men and women who work at Ryanair are proud to be in aviation, but they want dignity in the workplace. We in the ITF, in the ITUC, and all the other global union federations will do everything we can to support them to get good collective bargaining agreements.”