Ryanair warns witnesses at hearing against repeating claims

European Parliament committee hearing told of complaints about employment terms

Ryanair: says  no evidence to support claims that its employment practices are bogus or atypical and describes statements by various individuals as misleading or unfounded. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Ryanair: says no evidence to support claims that its employment practices are bogus or atypical and describes statements by various individuals as misleading or unfounded. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Ryanair has warned witnesses at a recent European Parliament committee hearing, who had criticised its employment practices, that it will take legal action if they repeat their claims elsewhere.

Last month, a number of academics and industry figures criticised the airline’s hiring practices at a hearing of the European Parliament’s employment and social affairs committee, which was inquiring into conditions in aviation.

The Irish airline has since written to a number of them warning that should they “make defamatory claims” about Ryanair in any other forum, it will initiate proceedings against them without further notice.

The main source of their criticisms was the fact that large numbers of Ryanair’s pilots are self-employed and are hired through an agency on contracts based on Irish law.

The witnesses included Jon Horne of the European Cockpit Association, an EU-wide pilots’ organisation that frequently clashes with Ryanair over its employment policies, and Emmanuel Jahan, who represents its rival Air France KLM in Brussels.

Cardiff University

Peter TurnbullWalesUnited Kingdom

It sent a fourth letter to Dirk Gillis of the University of Ghent in Belgium, who contributed to a report on the company’s employment practices produced by the third-level institution.

He and the other witnesses to whom Ryanair has written referred to that study in their evidence.

The airline’s letters, signed by its legal affairs director Juliusz Komorek, say the report is inaccurate, discredited and based on an anonymous internet survey.

They also argue that the university never established whether respondents worked for Ryanair or any other carrier.

Ryanair says there is no evidence to support claims that its employment practices are bogus or atypical and describes statements made by the various individuals as misleading or unfounded.

Letter to president

Wim Van De

Meanwhile, the committee’s sole Irish member, Fine Gael MEP Deirdre Clune, has written to the airline asking that it withdraw the threats against those who gave evidence.

While MEPs who speak at committee hearings are covered by parliamentary privilege, witnesses who give evidence to them are not.

Legal action

The airline has successfully defended a number of those cases and is appealing rulings that went against it.

A Ryanair spokesman said yesterday that it did not comment on legal issues. He pointed out that the company wrote to the University of Ghent three times to establish the validity of its survey.

“Their failure to reply with anything other than falsehoods or silence speaks volumes,” the spokesman added.

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