Michael O’Leary, the controversial and often outspoken boss of low-cost airline Ryanair, has appeared in a bizarre video that parodies a scene from the much-loved Christmas movie Love Actually to thank “all the fantastic team” for their hard work during 2019. Thousands of Ryanair pilots, cabin crew and other staffers are facing the threat of mass redundancies to be announced early in the New Year.
The video, appropriately titled ‘Ryanair Actually’ so as no one is unclear as to what film the airline is copying, parodies the ‘notecard’ scene starring Keira Knightley’s and Andrew Lincoln’s characters – it’s the scene that has been dubbed the creepiest part of the movie and was also parodied by the UK’s Conservative Party in a recent election campaign.
Ryanair’s version has clearly been made on a shoestring budget, although, remember this is the same airline that infamously makes staff at its head office bring their own stationery to work and bans employees from charging their mobile phones in the office.
The video comes just days after three Spanish aviation unions sued Ryanair for “illegally” making 224 pilots and cabin crew redundant. The unions claim Ryanair’s collective dismissal process has been “plagued by multiple irregularities and breaches of Spanish labor legislation.”
In July, O’Leary warned staff that over 1,000 Ryanair employees could be made redundant shortly after Christmas. He claimed delays in the delivery of the Boeing 737MAX aircraft were the root cause of the job losses but critics claimed the airline was using the grounding of the MAX as an excuse.
“Ryanair can maintain its existing workforce and deal with any negative impact through staff turnover. In fact, the company is still running regular recruitment adverts. Unions believe that an opportunistic attempt to undermine collective bargaining could be the real reason for the announcement,” warned the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) earlier this year.
Last year, Ryanair forced Polish cabin crew onto lower-paid self-employment contracts and in Italy, one union claims the airline’s promise to put crew onto permanent contracts has been beset with problems.
And giving evidence in a recent court case, Ryanair’s chief operations officer claimed O’Leary screamed at staff because of their handling of a union dispute. Peter Bellew, reportedly told a Dublin court that he “regretted” not having more guts to stand up to O’Leary because of his behaviour.
In the past, O’Leary has been accused of bully-boy tactics to threaten workers and undermine workers rights. It’s doubtful whether many Ryanair crew will take much Christmas cheer from O’Leary’s cringeworthy video.