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Belgium-based pilots take Ryanair to court

15:40 31/08/2022

Around half of Ryanair’s Belgium-based pilots have joined forces to sue the budget airline amid stalled salary negotiations, according to the ACV union, reports Bruzz. 

The grounds for the lawsuit, which involves 48 out of 100 Belgium-based pilots, are allegations that Ryanair used the Renault procedure as a means of pressure to reduce wages.

The Renault Procedure refers to mass layoffs, its name coming from a controversial incident in the 1990s in which Renault car manufacturer laid off 3,097 people without notice, seemingly in order to raise its stock price. After that, Belgian labour law was modified to lay out mandatory terms and conditions for such downsizing. 

The pilots behind the lawsuit say Ryanair used the threat of mass layoffs to reduce their wages by 20% during the coronavirus pandemic, saying that pilots could either take a pay cut or lose their jobs, all while union secretary Hans Elsen says “in reality, Ryanair was sitting on a mountain of cash.”

Ryanair has evoked criticism for its post-Covid salary negotiations with pilots, and even threatened to stop operating entirely in Belgium if pilots based there didn’t accept the offered salaries, which pilots say weren’t properly indexed and remain low. Unions have called Ryanair’s attitude throughout negotiations “contemptuous and arrogant.”

The lawsuit calls for Ryanair to correct wages that did not accurately reflect the indexation of August 2019 and properly pay unemployment owed to pilots who were out of work during the pandemic. 

“During this period the pilots were temporarily unemployed,” Elsen said. “Ryanair had to pay a supplement for each day of unemployment. However, without adhering to the rules of the aviation industry, Ryanair paid this surcharge only once a month, instead of every day.”

Photo: © Ryanair

 

 

Written by Helen Lyons