Ryanair offered a seat at the negotiating table. But it wouldn’t take it.

On 1st of July the Danish Labour Court started the clock for Ryanair in Denmark – the airline had 5 days* to sit at the negotiating table with unions and sign a collective labour agreement for its local staff. Were the stakes not so high, Ryanair could have ‘digested’ the ruling. But too many factors are at play, as proven by the almost immediate closure of its Copenhagen and Billund bases.

A defeat in Denmark can only be seen in the context of growing criticism of the airline’s employment practices while desperately trying to soften its public image and establish a firm lobbying position in Brussels. It clearly opens the door for other #BeFairRyanair claims to be made across Europe. It also shakes the ground below the airline’s well-rehearsed mantras that all Ryanair crew are happy, very well-paid and on lawful EU contracts, as noted at a recent breakfast meeting with several members of the European Parliament.

A collective labour agreement in Denmark could have spill over effects across Europe. And Michael O’Leary knows this very well. “If we sign a collective agreement with the Danish unions, we will then be asked to sign 15 French collective agreements, 55 Spanish collective agreements and a lot of Italian collective agreements. We are not going to do that,” said O'Leary in an interview with the Danish business.dk. 

Negotiating an official collective labour agreement would also be a crack in Ryanair’s claim that the company already has such an agreement with its employees. For years, Ryanair claims to have staff agreements, just not with the unions. In 2012, the Ryanair Pilot Group, representing well over half of all Ryanair pilots, carried out a poll among pilots. 97.7% stated to be in favour of immediately scrapping the systems for “representing” pilots in Ryanair (i.e. ERC for employees and one-to-one representation for contractors). (link)

So Ryanair’s seat at the negotiating table remains, once again, empty.

* extended by Trade Unions until the 18 July