Ryanair trial opens in France over alleged labour law breach
The trial of low-cost airline Ryanair, accused of a string of alleged breaches of French labour law from its former base at Marseille's airport, opened on Thursday in the nearby city of Aix-en-Provence.
State prosecutors have charged the airline with several illegal practices including registering workers employed in France as Irish employees, preventing workplace councils from functioning and preventing access to unions.
The airline faces a fine of up to 225,000 euros ($293,000) and the plaintiffs, which include a pilots' union and a pensions fund, are also seeking a further 9.8 million euros in damages.
The case echoes a similar hearing for low-cost carrier easyJet, which in 2010 was ordered to pay more than 1.4 million euros in damages to unions representing crew for hiring 170 employees under British contracts at a Paris airport.
Ryanair was represented by four lawyers at Thursday's court hearing but no executives were present, and the trial is due to continue on Friday.
The case centres around a base operated by Ryanair from 2006 at Marignane airport, near Marseille and not far from Aix-en-Provence, until January 2011 when it abandoned the facility.
The airline had based four planes and 127 employees there without applying French labour law or filling out tax declarations in the country.
Ryanair argues that Irish law should have been applied as it did not have a permanent activity in the area and its employees took their orders from Dublin headquarters.
© 2013 AFP