Ryanair cabin crew member advised not to fly, tribunal told
Company offered to redeploy Portuguese woman but new role would involve travel
Former Portuguese cabin crew member for Ryanair Monica Barbosa told the tribunal she became unwell in 2010 and on medical advice could no longer work as cabin crew. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA
A dispute between Ryanair and a Portuguese member of its cabin crew staff who was advised that she should not fly on medical grounds is being heard at the Employment Appeals Tribunal in Dublin.
Ryanair offered the woman redeployment as ground staff worker at a number of European bases, but she turned them down, the tribunal heard.
Portuguese woman Monica Barbosa told the tribunal she joined Ryanair as cabin crew in 2008 and was based in Trapani, Sicily. She applied for a transfer to a base in Faro or Oporto in Portugal, or Valencia, Spain, in June 2010 as she was being treated for varicose veins and a skin condition.
When the transfer had not been granted by early 2011 she went on unpaid leave and was subsequently diagnosed with Cushing’s disease and had cancer cells removed from her throat, she said.
Ms Barbosa told the tribunal she then sought redeployment as a ground crew member because she had been advised not to fly on medical grounds.
Counsel for Ryanair Paul Twomey BL said the company had offered Ms Barbosa deployment at either Dublin, Stansted in the UK, Marseille in France or any of a number of European bases.
However, Ms Barbosa told the tribunal that she was constrained by the number of bases which had direct flights to Oporto in Portugal, as she was getting medical attention there.
She said she had considered a job as a cashier in Stansted but had to reject it as she would have been working far from home if she got sick. She also turned Stansted down because she was worried about the danger to her health from colds and flu.
Sarah Lapick, an operations manager with Ryanair, said the company had more than 6,000 crew members. While Portugal accounted for just 4 per cent of its business, some 18 per cent of the crew were Portuguese.
The result was that there was many applications for cabin crew to transfer to Portugal, but few places. The company also said it did not have its own ground staff in Portugal so there were no vacancies for ground staff there.
Tribunal chairman Joe Revington said the difficulty did not seem insurmountable and he asked Ms Barbosa what position she might like in a redeployment situation. She replied that she would like a ground staff position in Portugal.
Mr Revington then adjourned to allow negotiations between the parties. However after a short recess the chairman was told the parties had not reached a settlement.