Business Irish

Sunday 25 March 2018

Ryanair workers vow to stay on strike after airline wins court case in Madrid

Passengers board a Ryanair plane at Barajas Airport in Madrid. The CTA union has now warned that strike action will continue
Passengers board a Ryanair plane at Barajas Airport in Madrid. The CTA union has now warned that strike action will continue

Paul O'Donoghue

Staff employed by Ryanair in Spain have said that they will continue striking even after a labour court ruled that that their industrial action was unlawful, the Irish Independent has learned.

The carrier won a dispute in the Madrid Labour Court that found that the workers, who went on strike in a dispute over pay and working conditions, were not providing minimum service standards required under Spanish law.

Although many airlines outsource the work to contractors, some carriers such as Aer Lingus and Ryanair provide baggage handling services for their passengers.

Workers in Madrid who handle checked luggage for Ryanair flights went on strike at the start of May in the dispute with the Irish airline.

When the strike started it was supported by some of the biggest unions in Spain: the CTA, UGT, CCCO and CGT. They claimed that Ryanair was looking to cut workers' pay by up to 30pc.

The unions also said that they faced problems such as the payment of bonuses during holidays, basic timetables for full-time workers and the payment of medical visits.

However, all unions except the CTA signed an agreement accepting the company's employment conditions on June 12. The CTA remained on strike, prompting Ryanair to pursue legal action against it. Ryanair would not confirm how many of the 200 luggage-handling staff it employs at Madrid airport took part in the strike, saying only that it was a "small number".

The case has now been settled in Ryanair's favour, with the court ruling that customers need to be provided with a minimum level of service.

However, workers have said that they will continue strike action despite the ruling.

A spokeswoman for the CTA said that the airline is asking workers to sign a 'Social Peace' agreement that would, among other restrictions, forbid workers from striking for two years.

She said: "The strike committee could agree to withdraw of some of the complaints against the company [but] they refused to sign Social Peace as it leaves workers completely unprotected and defenceless, so workers decided to continue with the strike.

"Many workers will be on holiday during August so many flights will suffer delays."

A Ryanair spokesman said: "We welcome the Madrid court ruling that the union members in this case had failed to meet their minimum service obligations and that Ryanair was free to use replacement workers to meet these minimum service standards as established by the Spanish government."

Regarding the claims made by the CTA the spokesman said: “We don’t respond to false claims made by unions.”

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