Ryanair work conditions illegal, says Belgian union

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A leading Belgian trade union said Wednesday it planned to take legal action against low-cost carrier Ryanair for imposing work conditions on cabin crew that violate Belgian law.

Tony Demonte of Belgium's CNE workers' union said the suit would likely be filed in September and that both Ryanair its partner Crewlink, which provides a large part of the Irish carrier's cabin staff, would be targetted.

The union condemned that fact that workers' paychecks are deducted 30 euros ($43) per month for 12 months to pay for uniforms. Cabin crew are also transferred without financial compensation and given little notice if fired. There are no company provisions for sick pay, a Crewlink employee's contract seen by AFP says, and workers are also blocked from living more than hour away from the airport.

The legal complaint, Demonte said, would try to compel both Ryanair and Crewlink to adjust their workers' contracts to conform with Belgian law.

Ryanair has consistently argued that its employment contracts need only satisfy Irish law.

"Ryanair's aircraft are registered in the Republic of Ireland and as you will perform your duties on these aircraft your employment is based in the Republic of Ireland," an employee's contract sent to AFP says.

Crewlink is also based in Ireland.

Ryanair in January abandoned its base at Marseille airport in protest over French prosecutors' refusal to drop charges against it for hiring workers on Irish contracts, which they said breached labour laws.

The company later said it would get around the court ruling by not basing its planes in Marseille on a permanent basis and by regularly changing the pilots and air crew working on the reopened routes.

According to CNE's estimates, some 270 Ryanair or Crewlink workers are residents of Charleroi, the town where a major Belgian airport is located.

The workers live "in Charleroi because they have to live there. They have a bank account and an address in Charleroi," Demonte said, explaining why the company should be forced to comply with Belgian workers rights.

© 2011 AFP

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