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Ryanair loses EU case to keep Irish law for crew abroad


By Pia Oppel and Julia Fioretti

LUXEMBOURG/BRUSSELS (Reuters) - lost an battle on Thursday in which the airline had sought to continue forcing cabin based outside Ireland to take their disputes to Irish courts, in a case with implications across the low-cost airline sector.

The European of Justice in Luxembourg ruled in favour of cabin based at the Irish carrier's Charleroi airport base in Belgium on the question of which should decide on their complaint. The employees took the airline to a local court, believing Belgian would be more favourable to them.

argued that Irish courts had jurisdiction over their Irish contracts. But a Belgian in Mons had requested the ECJ's ruling on whether its own judges had jurisdiction.

"The (of Justice) points out first of all that, as regards disputes related to employment contracts, the European rules concerning jurisdiction are aimed at protecting the weaker party," the Luxembourg-based ECJ said in a statement.

"Those rules enable inter alia an employee to sue his employer before the courts which he regards as closest to this interests," it said.

said it welcomed the ruling for recognising that the home base of the employee should not be the sole determinant of what can hear disputes on labour issues.

"Maintaining broad assessment criteria ensures that the most appropriate jurisdiction should apply in cases involving international transport workers rather than a sole criterion approach, which would narrow the assessment and restrict movement and flexibility with a myriad of regulations and different crews throughout Europe," Chief People Officer Eddie Wilson said.

"We do not believe this "Mons" ruling will in any way alter our Irish contracts of employment or the union rights which all of our people enjoy under the protection of the Irish Constitution."

Low-cost carriers such as and easyJet have bases all over Europe, including in France, Spain, Italy and Germany, where both planes and crews are stationed.

This means crews can return to their home base each night, allowing the airlines to avoid costs involved with overnight rest stops.

pilots are typically employed on contracts via third-party agencies, while easyJet uses local labour contracts.

The involved in the case had employment contracts drawn up under Irish which said their work was to be regarded as being carried out in Ireland since they were working on Irish-registered aircraft.

But Charleroi airport in southern Belgium was designated as their base, meaning they started and ended their working days there and had to reside within an hour of that airport.

The also said that the place where the aircraft aboard which the carry out their work are stationed should also be taken into account when determining which has jurisdiction.

German union Verdi, which represents cabin and pilots, welcomed the ruling, saying it meant that the rules in countries in which staff were based would apply and that German labour can no longer be avoided.

"This is a good day for Europe's passenger aviation industry and its employees. It's a first step in making sure all airlines have to follow the same rights and obligations," Verdi board member Christine Behle said in a statement.

said that Ireland had adopted all rules on employment rights and in some cases offered better protection that other countries.

(Additional reporting by Victoria Bryan in Berlin; Editing by Alastair Macdonald, Edmund Blair and Susan Thomas)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, September 14 2017. 16:32 IST