Ryanair dealt blow with law ruling on crew

Ryanair has lost an EU court battle over Irish labour laws for the cabin crew.

Ryanair has lost an EU court battle over Irish labour laws for the cabin crew.

Ryanair has lost an EU court battle in which the airline had sought to continue imposing business-friendly Irish labour laws on cabin crew working elsewhere in Europe, in a case with implications across the low-cost airline sector.

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg on Thursday ruled in favour of cabin crew based at the Irish carrier's Charleroi airport base in Belgium. The employees took the airline to a local court, believing Belgian law would be more favourable to them.

Ryanair argued that Irish law applied to their Irish contracts.

"The court 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 Luxembourg-based ECJ said in a statement.

"Those rules enable inter alia an employee to sue his employer before the courts which he regards as closest to this interests," it said.

The ruling will come as a relief to cabin crew in Europe who are unsure what laws apply to them.

The crew involved in the case had employment contracts drawn up under Irish law which said their work was to be regarded as being carried out in Ireland since they were working on Irish-registered aircraft.

But Charleroi airport in southern Belgium was designated as their base, meaning they started and ended their working days there and had to reside within an hour of that airport.

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.

"Maintaining broad assessment criteria ensures that the most appropriate jurisdiction should apply in cases involving international transport workers rather than a sole criterion approach, which would narrow the assessment and restrict movement and flexibility with a myriad of regulations and different crews throughout Europe," Ryanair chief people officer Eddie Wilson said.

"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."

Low-cost carriers such as Ryanair and easyJet have bases all over Europe, including in France, Spain, Italy and Germany, where both planes and crews are stationed.

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