Ryanair has lost an EU court battle in which the airline had sought to continue imposing business-friendly Irish labour laws on cabin crew working elsewhere in Europe. As Sonia Legg reports, the case has implications across the low-cost airline sector.
He may be putting on a brave face but Ryanair's CEO has lost a court battle with the EU. Cabin crew based in Belgium wanted the right to take any labour disputes to local courts instead of ones in Ireland where the carrier is based. But the European Court of Justice ruled that in the employer can't ignore the laws of the place where the employee regularly works. The crew involved in this case were required to live near a Belgium airport but their work was regarded as Ireland-based. That meant they couldn't benefit from more favourable local labour laws. Low-cost carriers generally have bases all over their region. It helps them avoid the costs of overnight rest stops. (SOUNDBITE) (English) RYANAIR CHIEF EXECUTIVE, MICHAEL O'LEARY, SAYING: "It may well give the unions, some in Belgium or in other countries, more opportunity to take us into court and challenge whatever kind of provisions we provided in Ireland but ultimately, they cannot and will not be changing the Irish contracts or the structure of the Irish contracts." O'Leary took comfort from another aspect of the so-called "Mons" ruling. It won't automatically be the local court that wins jurisdiction. (SOUNDBITE) (English) RYANAIR CHIEF EXECUTIVE, MICHAEL O'LEARY, SAYING: "What the unions are claiming in the Mons case is that it's where the base, where the employees are based and is now to be the deciding factor. And the court is going to reject that and is going to say the base will be an important factor but it's not going to be a deciding factor." But Germany's Verdi union has already welcomed the ruling. They say Germany's strong labour laws can no longer be by-passed. Ryanair says Ireland adopted all EU employment laws anyway and in some cases offer better protection.