Ryanair has lost an EU court battle in which the airline had sought to continue forcing cabin crew based outside Ireland to take their disputes to Irish courts, in a case with implications across the low-cost airline sector. Shares in the airline fell over 3.5% at one stage.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg ruled in favour of cabin crew based at the Irish carrier’s Charleroi Airport base in Belgium on the question of which court should decide on their complaint.
The employees took the airline to a local court, believing Belgian law would be more favourable to them. Ryanair argued that Irish courts had jurisdiction over their Irish contracts.
However, a Belgian court in Mons had requested the ECJ’s ruling on whether its own judges had jurisdiction.
“The Court (of Justice) points out first of all that, as regards disputes related to employment contracts, the European rules concerning jurisdiction are aimed at protecting the weaker party,” the ECJ said.
Ryanair said it welcomed the ruling for recognising that the home base of the employee should not be the sole determinant of what court can hear disputes on labour issues.
“We do not believe this Mons ruling will in any way alter our Irish contracts of employment or the union rights which all of our people enjoy under the protection of the Irish constitution,” said Ryanair’s Eddie Wilson.
Low-cost carriers such as Ryanair and EasyJet have bases all over Europe, including in France, Spain, Italy and Germany, where planes and crews are stationed.
Ryanair pilots are typically employed on contracts via third-party agencies, while EasyJet uses local labour contracts.
German union Verdi, which represents cabin crew and pilots, welcomed the ruling, saying it meant that the rules in countries in which staff were based would apply and that German labour law can no longer be avoided.
— Reuters and Irish Examiner staff
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