COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Danish trade unions have said they would launch action at airports from which Ryanair (RYA.I) flies that would effectively stop its services after, they said, the low-cost Irish airline refused to sign up to national collective agreements.
In the latest salvo in the months-long dispute, which began before Ryanair even started flying from Copenhagen, the unions said they will refuse services such as refuelling at Copenhagen on July 18 and at two airports in Jutland on July 23.
Ryanair retorted it would close its largest base in Jutland out of which it has been flying for years with no complaints, should the sympathy action take place there. Closing its base means pilots and crew would be based outside Denmark with no changes to flights.
The budget airline’s policy of employing people in countries such as Denmark under the less generous terms of its home nation has angered Danish labour unions.
The unions wanted the carrier to sign a Danish collective agreement with its locally-based pilots and cabin crew. Last week a court said the unions were allowed to refuse to service Ryanair flights if the carrier did not meet that demand.
Ryanair said two days later it would re-base its single Copenhagen airplane but then agreed to fresh talks on Wednesday. Local media said the meeting lasted just eight minutes.
“Ryanair has sadly flat out refused to enter an agreement with the union and ensure their employees pay and labour terms are in accordance with the Danish labour market,” said Lizette Risgaard, chairwoman of the trade union umbrella group LO.
“That’s why LO now issues a second sympathy conflict warning,” she said in a statement, referring to the action.
The statement represents an escalation of the dispute after municipalities banned their workers from using the airline for work. Previously the threat had only been for action at Copenhagen.
Ryanair began flying from there in March this year but had been flying for several years out of Billund and Aarhus, both in the west of the country, with no complaints.
It has said before its pilots and cabin crew in Denmark enjoy high pay, job security and are covered by a collective agreement. It says its pilots earn up to 150,000 euros ($166,000) a year and cabin crew up to 35,000 euros.
“Ryanair has already confirmed its Billund base will close if it is used by Danish unions (who admit they have no Ryanair members) as a pretext for sympathy action in Copenhagen, after Ryanair’s Copenhagen base closes,” the company said in an email.
“The only effect of these actions by Danish unions will be to export even more highly paid Danish jobs overseas, which shows just how crazy these unions are.”
Reporting by Sabina Zawadzki; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle and William Hardy