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French Pilots Bring Legal Action Against Ryanair

Tuesday 02 February 2010

French pilots and cabin crew have filed a legal action against the labour practices of Ryanair, which follows on a recent similar condemnation of Easyjet in the French courts.

The French unions, the UNAC (L'Union des navigants de l'aviation civile) and SNPL (Syndicat national des pilotes de ligne), filed the complaint to the prosecuting authorities in Aix-en-Provence as they consider Ryanair is not applying French labour laws, even though it has a base in Marseilles.

Recently in the French courts, Easyjet were fined the maximum penalty of €225,000 for not respecting French labour laws, by employing 170 staff at Orly airport outside of Paris on UK employment contracts. As the staff lived and worked in France, they were required to be employed under French law, including the payment of French social security contributions. Easyjet stopped the practice several years ago, and this fine relates to the period between 2003/06.

According to the aircrew unions, Ryanair benefits from the subsidies it receives from local councils to run flights from Marseilles, but does not pay French employer social charges, or apply French workplace laws.

They consider this to be a distortion of competition in relation to French companies. Air France, in particular, has set up it's own low-cost airline Transavia, which it is seeking to use more widely in France and Europe.

The unions have urged the French government to 'finally take responsibility in this case' and they have asked the prosecutor to bring the labour practices of Ryanair into line with French law.

Ryanair made Marseilles its first base in France in 2006, and runs four aircraft from a low cost terminal at the airport.

In 2007 Ryanair made a formal complaint to the European Court of Justice, complaining that French labour laws breach the free movement of labour. The outcome of this complaint is still awaited.

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