EurWORK European Observatory of Working Life

Denmark: Ryanair loses court case against LO union and announces move to Lithuania

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About

Country: 
Denmark
Author: 
Carsten Jørgensen
Institution: 
FAOS - Employment Relations Research Centre, Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen

Verdict in the Danish Labour Court recognises the right of Danish unions to issue notice of industrial action including sympathy strikes against the Irish airline Ryanair.

On 15 June 2015, the legal proceedings in the case between Ryanair and the Danish Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) on behalf of the union of cabin crew, the Federation of Employees in the Service Trade (Serviceforbundet) commenced in the Danish Labour Court. The procedures including examination of witnesses continued the whole day. On 1 July, the Labour Court presented its verdict that Ryanair has to recognise the legal right of Serviceforbundet to issue notice of a main industrial action with the aim of supporting specific demands in connection with collective bargaining negotiations covering the cabin crew at Ryanair bases in Denmark. This also means that other LO unions whose members deliver services to Ryanair (regarding fuel, catering and handling) have the right to issue notice of a sympathy strike in support of the main industrial action. In practice, this means that Ryanair is prevented from flying out of Copenhagen. Due to informalities given in connection with the first notice of conflict, Serviceforbundet had to issue a new notice, which came into effect from 18 July in Copenhagen.

The verdict was awaited with great interest because it confirmed that Danish cabin crew working from a Ryanair base on Danish territory follows Danish labour law and not Irish civil law as claimed by Ryanair because the airline is registered in Ireland. Ryanair has stated that it will move the base from Copenhagen to Kaunas in Lithuania, but nothing seems to be settled in practice yet. Unions at Ryanair's other base in Billund, in western Denmark, are also involved in an industrial action against the airline. The airline offered to maintain the Billund base if the unions there would withdraw the notice of planned industrial. The proposal was rejected by the unions and consequently Ryanair has announced that it will leave the base in Billund. Industrial action in Billund was planned for 23 July.

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