Danish unions are wrong-footed as Ryanair ditches Copenhagen base
Published 04/07/2015 | 02:30
Danish unions want Ryanair to reverse its surprise decision to shut an operating base in Copenhagen, which had been plagued by political controversy and union unrest.
However, Ryanair insisted that yesterday's decision is final, and that a planned $400m (€360m) investment in the Copenhagen base will instead be spread throughout other European cities.
The Irish airline will continue to fly to the Danish capital but will now not have any aircraft or crew based there,
Ryanair said yesterday that it will pull its base from Copenhagen after a ruling by the Danish Labour Court that Copenhagen airport staff had the right to refuse to service its flights in a dispute over workers' rights.
Ryanair said it will appeal the decision.
The airline's policy of employing people in countries such as Denmark under Irish labour rules, rather than the local regime, had incurred the anger of Danish labour unions.
After the court ruling the Services Union, which is a member of the Danish Confederation of Trade Unions (LO), said that it would commence strike action against Ryanair on July 18 unless a collective agreement is negotiated with the airline before then. A spokesman for LO did not confirm the length of the intended strike. The unions had demanded that the carrier sign a Danish collective agreement with its locally-based pilots and cabin crew. They went to court to find out if workers at Copenhagen airport - such as baggage handlers and fuel suppliers - could legally refuse to service Ryanair flights if the carrier did not meet that demand.
The court ruled on Wednesday that the unions had the right to demand a collective agreement for Ryanair staff and also to stage a strike against the airline.
Ryanair is now to move its single Copenhagen-based aircraft, to Kaunas in Lithuania from July 14 after the Labour Court ruling.
Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary, below, said: "Ryanair will now switch its Copenhagen- based aircraft as a result of this week's bizarre Labour Court ruling which allows airline unions to blockade Ryanair-based aircraft at Copenhagen even though these unions do not represent any Ryanair pilots or cabin crew.
"Sadly, Copenhagen will lose out on these Ryanair jobs as we move our pilots and cabin crew to other Ryanair airports elsewhere in Europe." A spokesman for LO admitted that the union has not been able to establish contact with any of the approximately 50 Ryanair staff currently based in Denmark.
However, he said that Ryanair staff who are based in Copenhagen should still be subject to Danish labour laws.
Speaking to the Irish Independent he said: "We don't want Ryanair to leave, we want them to stay but with a Danish collective agreement for those who are working in Denmark."
He added that several other large European airlines have collective agreements in place for staff who operate in Denmark.
"We are still looking for negotiations. For us it is not a quest to get Ryanair out of Denmark, it is a question of them having a collective agreement like any other flight company," he said.
A Ryanair spokesman said the decision to move from Copenhagen is final. The company previously said it would invest $400m in the Danish capital, which was to be the base of four aircraft and was intended to ultimately operate more than 100 flights a week.