CWR Cabin Crew Union was legally established earlier this week and affiliated to the Polish union federation NSZZ Solidarność. It represents all cabin crew across Ryanair’s five bases in the country and is the culmination of months of organising by the airline’s workers.
Workers launched the union on Thursday in pre-scheduled meetings with Ryanair management, collectively withdrawing from the company’s employee representation system and demanding that it instead negotiates with the union on their behalf. Workers have the right to take such action under Polish law.
However, instead of respecting the workers’ choice for collective bargaining, Ryanair immediately took steps to deny Polish crew trade union rights. Managers refused to receive CWR registration papers, and told workers they would be made redundant if they did not accept self-employment contracts with Ryanair Sun by 30 September. Ryanair Sun is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ryanair.
Under Polish law self-employed workers are ineligible for trade union membership and collective bargaining.
The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) expressed their grave concern at these union-busting tactics which violate international norms on freedom of association.
Stephen Cotton, ITF General Secretary, said: “After saying it would recognise trade union rights, Ryanair is taking a big step backward in Poland. This is a clear attempt to deny the rights of Polish cabin crew to trade union representation and collective bargaining.”
“The Ryanair management is showing its ineptitude ahead of next week’s AGM with these infantile union-busting tactics. These are not the actions of a mature company with a sustainable approach to industrial relations. This is further evidence of why the Board needs a new Chair to move the company forward.”
Eduardo Chagas, ETF General Secretary, said: “Yesterday morning we welcomed a new union into our movement. By the afternoon, Ryanair had again shown its incompetence in dealing with both unions and workers.”
“Ryanair lacks understanding of European law. We question whether the 2001 Employees’ Rights Safeguard in the Event of Transfer of Undertakings Directive permits companies to undermine employment standards in this way.”
“A key principle of our Fair Transport campaign is that workers enjoy the same rights wherever in Europe they are based. Ryanair must come to the table with CWR in Poland, as it has done with unions in other countries, and begin proper negotiations.”