Last September, Ryanair signed its very first local collective labour agreement for cabin crew in Italy. The deal marked a major shift in the low-cost airline’s previous policy of forcing cabin crew to sign Irish employment contracts – no matter where they were based in Europe.
As part of the three-year agreement, Ryanair said it would respect local Italian laws, move more crew from agency employment to full-time direct employment with Ryanair and introduce a local Italian pension scheme. The deal was signed off by three trade unions who represented cabin crew in the country, although the Ultrasporti union refused to support the agreement because they didn’t believe it went far enough.
It’s been seven months since the collective labour agreement was introduced and Ryanair has been forced to bear the brunt of rising staff costs for accepting the unionisation of its cabin crew workforce. It seems that Ryanair has turned a corner in respecting the rights of its employees but the Ultraporti union claims appearances can be deceptive.
In new allegations made against the Dublin-based airline behemoth, trade unionists have labelled the CLA as “abusive” and claims it contains a number of “false promises and real lies”.
Amongst the new claims, the Ultrasporti union claims:
- Ryanair has failed to comply with Italian health and safety laws
- It continues to refuse to guarantee obligatory protections like parental leave
- The airline is making deductions from cabin crew wages to make up for higher Italian taxes
- The process of moving to a permanent contract is still not transparent and is unfair
On top of that, the union claims Ryanair is still dealing with sick employees as if they have committed a disciplinary offence. Ignoring Italian law, the union says managers have been demanding medical notes for all reports of sickness.
It’s clear that the Ultrasporti union is really unhappy with the collective labour agreement that was signed off “in the dark” but it’s unclear whether they have any real power to dispute the deal. The union is actually the smallest of all the unions representing Ryanair cabin crew in the country so it’s unlikely the airline is going to make any fundamental changes to the deal.
That being said, it does looks like Ryanair is still trying to get its head around local regulations and it’s probably not much of a surprise that mistakes are being made and managers adjust to a new way of working.
Over 80% of Ryanair’s cabin crew and pilot communities across Europe now have union recognition agreements and more than half have won some form of collective bargaining agreement or compliance with local laws. However, workers advocacy groups say a lot more still needs to be done and cautions about “union busting techniques” that continue to be used by the airline.
Last month, a Dutch court ordered Ryanair to pay a group of pilots between €380,000 and €480,000 in compensation after the airline closed a small base in the city of Eindhoven. Critics claimed Ryanair closed the base because workers staged strike action and the Dutch employment agency dismissed the airline’s argument that the base was actually closed for economic reasons.
Earlier this month, Ryanair reported a 29% fall in annual profits – along with rising fuel costs, air traffic control delays and overcapacity putting a strain on yields, the airline also blamed a €200 million rise in staff costs for the drop in performance.