Ryanair chaos highlights Ireland’s poor standard of workers protection

Press Release- Bríd Smith TD, People Before Profit . 26/09/2017

Brid Smith TD challenges Varadkar over O’Leary’s Fine Gael fundraising and states lack of protection for worker’s rights

People Before Profit TD Brid Smith has said that the travel chaos inflicted on Ryanair passengers would have had Fine Gael TDs “jumping up and down if it were caused by a workers strike”. Instead both the Government and Fine Gael TDs were remarkably quiet despite the hardship caused by the anti-union practices of Ryanair and Michael O’Leary.

The TD for Dublin South Central asked Taoiseach Leo Varadkar today in the Dail when the Government would legislate to provide workers in Ireland with decent protection. She claimed that part of the current crisis in Ryanair has been caused by the company insisting workers based at other European bases are only covered by Irish labour laws. A recent ECJ ruling has found against Ryanair.

Deputy Smith stated that while the immediate cause of the crisis was Ryanair’s anti-union practices and its general contempt for workers, the underlying issue is also Ireland’s weak legislation on workers right to join unions and have them negotiate on their behalf. “It is telling that Ryanair wants to insist its pilots are subject to Irish employment laws, that’s because our laws are weak and afford little protection for workers when dealing with a bullying employer”, said Smith.

The TD also highlighted the close relationship between Fine Gael and O’Leary: “it is quiet sickening that only last year Leo Varadkar and Michal Noonan where eulogising Michael O’Leary as he gave a speech attacking trade unions and workers, it is clear which side this Government is on”.

While the Taoiseach denied in the Dail knowing of any fundraising event, media reports last year linked him and Michael Noonan to a high profile fundraiser in South Dublin addressed by Michael O’Leary where the Ryanair boss attacked trade unions and the left in general.

Smith called for greater protection for workers in areas such as right to unionise and protection against bogus self-employment contracts, something she claims lies at the heart of the current Ryanair crisis with many pilots not directly employed by the company but deemed to be self-employed and thus not covered by any employment protections.


Contact- Brid Smith TD- 087 909 0166

Nick Lee (Press Officer)- 087 615 6473