ECA says Ryanair has threatened to close bases in Canary Islands

posted on 16th January 2019 by Justin Burns
ECA says Ryanair has threatened to close bases in Canary Islands

The European Cockpit Association (ECA) said today that into 2019 Ryanair “persists in using threats as a bargaining tool” as negotiations on collective labour agreements (CLAs) continue at varying speeds throughout Europe.

The ECA said within the first three days of 2019, in negotiations with cabin crew unions in Spain, Ryanair threatened closure of two bases in the Canary Islands if the cabin crew did not sign CLAs by the 18 January.

It said similar threats and ultimatums had been made to pilot unions last year and “seriously undermine the pilots’ confidence in Ryanair’s good faith”.

The ECA said pilot unions in several countries have suspended negotiations as a result of such threats hanging in the air.

ECA president, Jon Horne said: “We see base closures and downsizing used by Ryanair as the ‘Bogeyman’ to push employees into submission – no strikes, no disputes, no hard negotiations, just accept our ‘deal’.

“Ryanair has a history of this behaviour, with the result of alienating its employees. Maybe management has forgotten already that this ‘new Ryanair’ is supposed to be a better version of itself? Whatever the reason, such behaviour is not acceptable and shows a complete disregard for any form of normal industrial relations, contradicting its own claims of establishing positive relations with pilot (and cabin crew) unions.”

The ECA said threats of base closures and downsizing have been used previously on a number of occasions including last year immediately after Ryanair pilots were on strike in Germany and the Netherlands, Ryanair closed the Eindhoven base in the Netherlands, a Bremen base and downsized one other base in Germany.

“Ryanair claims there is some kind of commercial reason for these base closures and downsizing threats.” said Horne. “But to date – as the Dutch court verdicts showed – it has failed to provide compelling evidence to back this claim. Instead, several base closure threats have disappeared into thin air when labour issues have been solved.”

ECA secretary general, Philip von Schöppenthau said: “Ryanair’s failure to learn how to engage in normal industrial relations practices could be a significant destabilising force in 2019.

“Does Ryanair realise the impact on crews’ lives and families in those bases? It is time for Ryanair – and its shareholders – to consider how such ‘weaponising’ of base closures is compatible with claims of establishing positive union relations and with their social dialogue and crew retention strategy. In our view, it is simply counter-productive and unsustainable.”