Ryanair CEO O'Leary prepared to apply Belgian labour law from 2019 (or even sooner)

The Irish airline Ryanair is prepared to apply Belgian labour regulations to its Belgian staff from “1 January 2019 or even sooner”, the airline’s CEO Michael O’Leary said at a press conference in Brussels on Tuesday morning. Currently all Ryanair staff are subject to Irish labour law that offers them less protection for example against dismissal.

Mr O’Leary was speaking at a press conference organised to announce launch of 6 new Ryanair routes to and from Belgium during next year’s summer season.

The Ryanair CEO’s announcement comes after a serious of strikes including an international strike at the end of September that resulted in the scrapping of 250 flights.

Previously, Ryanair had said that local (Belgian) labour regulations would be applicable to its Belgian staff from 2020. However, this has now been brought forward.  

Mr O’Leary claims that he has invited the unions to talks but his invitation has remained unanswered.    . "We are still waiting for the unions to form a delegation to come and meet us. We could then reach an agreement as soon as possible. It won’t take a lot of time or work”.  

"We have already reached such an agreement and the market there is four times bigger than in Belgium. So there is absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t be able to reach an agreement here”.

Mr O’Leary added he had received letters from Italian employees that said that they wanted the Irish labour regulations back.

However, the unions want an undertaking from Mr O’Leary that paper.   

Ryanair’s CEO stressed that the strike was not about money. “We pay our pilots between 140,000 and 200,000 euro/annum. I don’t know what you earn, but these are high salaries. We pay well and will continue to do so”.

According to Mr O'Leary the strikes have not had such a big impact on his airline.

“Lufthansa has had 18 strikes in the past 18 months, Ryanair just  2 in the past 20 years”.