New victory for Ryanair workers as labour authority rules on Eindhoven base closure

March 22, 2019

The Dutch labour authority (UWV) has ruled that Ryanair cannot fire the workers affected by the closure of its base at Eindhoven Airport, marking a significant setback for the airline’s industrial relations model.

In October Ryanair announced it planned to close its bases at Eindhoven and Bremen and downsize operations at Weeze, citing the impact of strike action over the summer. ITF, ETF and the unions involved – FNV in the Netherlands and ver.di in Germany – immediately condemned this move as an attack on workers’ fundamental rights.

In justifying itself to the Dutch authorities, Ryanair cited “economic” reasons for the decision. While the bases have remained closed since November, unions have been active in supporting the workers affected through legal action.

This week’s decision by the UWV means that Ryanair cannot dismiss 16 pilots and 15 cabin crew on these grounds. Unless the airline reopens its base at Eindhoven, it will have to continue paying the workers as if they were operating aircraft as normal.

Gabriel Mocho Rodriguez, ITF civil aviation secretary, said: “This decision by the Dutch labour authority is a vindication of our campaign to clean up Ryanair’s labour practices. It shows that there are consequences to violating workers’ fundamental rights.”

“We commend our affiliate union FNV for pursuing this case to a successful conclusion. Ryanair should take this as a warning: workers won’t give up until they have won both trade union rights and fair pay and conditions.”

François Ballestero, ETF political secretary for aviation and tourism, said: “Ryanair tried to frame this case as a matter of market freedom: the freedom of businesses to establish themselves and operate in the single market. Unions responded that this was really a matter of worker freedom: the fundamental freedoms to join a union and take strike action for fair pay and conditions.”

“This decision represents the kind of Europe we want to see, one in which workers’ fundamental rights are upheld by the rule of law. On 27 March, at the culmination of our Fair Transport campaign, workers from across Europe including from Ryanair will be taking to the streets of Brussels to demand precisely this.”

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