Ryanair sticks to its guns in Dutch base closure row

Unyielding approach a reminder airline does not want to be seen as a ‘soft touch’ by unions

Ryanair closed its Eindhoven base   on Monday. Photograph: Reuters

Ryanair closed its Eindhoven base on Monday. Photograph: Reuters

 

Ryanair’s chief executive Michael O’Leary last month floated the prospect that its pan-European industrial relations woes could be resolved “this side of Christmas”, as it seeks deals with unions across the continent.

And if O’Leary can make peace with Ryanair’s Irish-based pilots and unions – with whom he traded barbs for years before striking a deal – he can make peace with anyone.

But just in case anybody thinks Ryanair or its forceful chief executive have come over all soft in the airline’s view of trade unionists, just take a look at its approach this month to a dispute with pilots in the southern Dutch city of Eindhoven. It is vintage old Ryanair.

Under pressure

Ryanair sought to shut its base in the city, not long after Dutch pilots joined up for industrial action in the summer at the same time that the airline was under pressure from proposed strike action in Ireland, Germany and elsewhere. Local representatives accused it of shutting the base in retaliation and sued.

A Dutch court last week agreed that the base closure appears to be a form of retaliation for earlier strikes. It said it was unable to block Ryanair from closing the base, but it ordered that the airline would have to keep paying the salaries of local pilots who refused to relocate to other bases.

If you have to keep paying the staff anyway, what is the point in closing the base when the cost-saving incentive has been removed?

Ignored

Ryanair, however, has ignored all external pressure and went ahead and closed its Eindhoven base anyway on Monday, although it will surely uphold the court’s ruling with regards payment. Local Dutch media reported on Monday evening that unions were scrambling to assemble an injunction case.

“All pilots and cabin crew have already been offered base transfers, which protects their seniority and earnings, but if any crew members wish to choose redundancies over base transfers then we will respect that choice,” said Ryanair.

It sounds like a Hobson’s choice. Its unyielding approach in Eindhoven is a reminder that Ryanair does not want to be seen as a “soft touch” by unions. Events in Eindhoven would certainly support that viewpoint.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.