Sunday, 19 July 2015

Scandinavian unions try to give Ryan Air a Danish pasting.

Union membership is not required under Danish law. That's the good news. Industrial action based on disliking a (foreign) carrier's employment practices is OK. That's the less good news.

The Danish courts have ruled that handling and other companies can boycott Ryan Air's aircraft because the unions take exception to some of its attitudes to employment contract and the fact that the company won't enter a Danish collective bargaining agreement. The law doesn't  require them to do so but perversely it does allow coersive industrial action.

What's the problem here? Simply that mold breaking  Ryan doesn't do things the Danish way. They don't of course do anything anyone else's way either but that's beside the point. The Irish are in the stocks. It might have been others such as Thai, Singapore and Emirates who also organised in a very non Danish ways but they are off the hook at least for the moment.That's the (bad) luck of the Irish.

The whole thing is a nonsense. Ryan will still fly in and out of Danish airports including SAS's main base Copenhagen where it will just drop a few local jobs.The Irish airline provides the majority of international links from the Jutland's Bilund airport where it also generates a good number of jobs which makes any hostile action is less likely there. Well paid union bosses have been quoted as saying: "These are not the kinds of jobs we want in Denmark anyway". Who are "we" in the unions to usurp people's right to decide what jobs people can and can't do or whether they should be queuing at the local Job Centre instead?

The unions may find that by singling out Ryan  they have bitten off more than they can chew. The previously combative Michael O'Leary has been having a bit of a quiet time lately thanks to the company's new "Be nice to people" policy ,so he's probably ready for a good scrap especially one in which he can be positioned as championing the customer.

 A leading article in a Danish paper has labelled the unions' court victory as likely to be short term since Ryan Air are likely to take Denmark to the European Court and probably win. The union leaders, clad in Vietnam tailored clothes and clutching all kinds of electronic devices produced in oriental countries all lacking Danish style labour rights, should think about that while they celebrate.

Singled out for a pasting, the Ryan would  make a good fist of a legal case. Michael O'Leary has commented that they have never seen anything like it in Europe, even in over the top labour protectionist places like France, Italy and Spain. On the sidelines there lurks a feeling that highly unionised legacy SAS which has industrial relations issues of its own isn't too unhappy to see their upstart energetic expansionist low cost competitor under fire.