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Union challenge defeats Ryanair at ECJ

14 Sep 2017
A case brought by cabin crew members with union support today defeated low cost airline Ryanair at the European Court of Justice. The Court ruled that disputes over a mobile worker’s contract of employment should be heard in the courts of the country from which they carry out their duties, not in Ireland as the airline had tried to insist.

The ruling established the rights of mobile aviation workers to have their grievances heard in the courts of the country from which they work. It brought together multiple cases of cabin crew members from Belgium, Spain and Portugal. All of them had had employment problems with Ryanair or Crewlink agency, both of which had tried to have them heard in Ireland, even though it wasn’t the country where the crew members lived and worked.

ITF general secretary Steve Cotton explained: “This ruling is a defeat for Ryanair and a victory for workers’ rights. It upholds the fundamental principle of protecting mobile workers in aviation by ensuring that they can hold their employer to account in the country from which they genuinely discharge their duties – not in a nation which they may never have visited and whose courts are foreign and based hundreds of miles from home and place of work.”

Eduardo Chagas, general secretary of the ETF, said that the judgement would empower the workers in all those airlines that try to circumvent national law and pick the jurisdiction that best serves their interests. He said that he wanted to pay respect to the workers and their unions who stood up and fought for their rights. This ruling is an important victory in the fight against social dumping in aviation, he added, and thanked Belgium’s ITF/ETF-affiliated CNE union for supporting this ground-breaking court case.

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