Ryanair faces spate of legal actions in High Court

Airline says plaintiffs in 37 cases are not employees

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said  the ECJ verdict would not change the Irish contracts or the structure of the Irish contracts and not threaten to increase the airline’s costs. Photograph:  Nick Bradshaw

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said the ECJ verdict would not change the Irish contracts or the structure of the Irish contracts and not threaten to increase the airline’s costs. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

*Ryanair is facing legal action from more than 30 individuals who have filed proceedings against the airline in the High Court.

As the plaintiffs have only taken the first step in their pursuit of the company, there is little detail available on the cases.

However, it is understood that the actions relate to European payments orders. These are a process for collecting debts across international borders within the EU.

Ryanair said that none of the plaintiffs was either a current or former member of staff of the airline.

Beyond confirming that none of the plaintiffs were not employed by the airline, Ryanair said that it did not comment on pending legal actions.

The cases come as the Irish carrier is in talks with pilot trade unions across Europe following its pledge late last year to recognise organised labour.

The airline employs pilots directly and on contract. Its hiring practices have drawn frequent criticism from unions and other groups, but Ryanair insists that it complies fully with all laws and regulations.

The airline hires pilots and cabin crews under Irish law on the basis that they are working on aircraft registered in the Republic. However, analysts argued last year that a European Court of Justice ruling allowing workers to take cases to courts most aligned with their interests undermined this approach.

Irish contracts

Ryanair’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary, responded that the ECJ verdict would not change the Irish contracts or the structure of the Irish contracts and added that it did not threaten to increase the airline’s costs.

The High Court hears cases with a minimum value of more than €75,000, except for personal injuries, where the threshold is more than €60,000.

Last December, the airline agreed to recognise trade unions after pilots in the Republic, Germany and Italy threatened to strike in the run-up to Christmas.

The move followed a controversy over flight cancellations in the autumn caused by a mix-up in pilots’ holiday rosters.

The British Airline Pilots’ Association and Anpac, the Italian equivalent, have since agreed basic recognition deals with the airline.

The Irish Airline Pilots’ Association – part of trade union Fórsa (formerly Impact) – has yet to agree a deal, although it was one of the first to meet Ryanair after the company said that it would recognise unions.

Cabin crew in Portugal went on strike last week. Ryanair cancelled a small number of flights as a result but said that it was able to reaccommodate all passengers on alternative services.

* This copy was edited on April 11th.