November 5, 2018 / 3:27 PM / 7 days ago

Ryanair closes Eindhoven base in Netherlands, jobs uncertain

AMSTERDAM, Nov 5 (Reuters) - Ryanair has closed its base in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, local media and unions reported on Monday, with more than a dozen Dutch cabin workers dismissed and a standoff set to continue with pilots and other cabin staff who refused to relocate.

The airline, which last week repeated it intended to close the base, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Ryanair’s move follows a Dutch court ruling on Friday that said the company could not force 16 pilots to relocate, though it could also not prevent Ryanair from closing the base.

Judges said the company appeared to be closing the base in retaliation for European-wide strikes that Dutch pilots joined in recent months.

Under Dutch law, layoffs of long-term workers must be negotiated and the court ordered the company to continue paying the pilots’ salaries and ensure they are given an opportunity to keep their licences current.

According to a report by national broadcaster NOS, 16 cabin workers who had worked at the company for less than a year, and thus had fewer job protections, were dismissed on Monday.

Of 60 other cabin staff, around half agreed to a Ryanair offer to move to a different base, the NOS reported.

A spokesperson for labour union FNV, which represents cabin workers, told the ANP news agency it would seek fair compensation for both those who were moving and those whose jobs were in limbo.

Europe’s largest budget airline has struggled with labour relations since it bowed to pressure to recognise trade unions for the first time last December.

The company has tried to limit the power of unions by threatening to shut bases and move staff.

It put more than 300 Dublin-based pilots and cabin crew on 90-day notice in July, but withdrew plans to cut it fleet and staff there two months later when it agreed a deal with Irish unions.

It has also announced plans to close two bases in Germany.

Ryanair will continue to fly through Eindhoven, though no flights will originate there, the company has said. (Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Mark Potter)

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