Independent Media Centre Ireland

Ryanair's “Employees”

category international | worker & community struggles and protests | other press author Thursday November 02, 2006 13:18author by Tachyon

The curious case of Ryanair's subcontractors Crewlink Ltd and their present, yet non-existent aircraft employees.

Ryanair are famous for the use of spin and 'selective' figures to hide the truth, recent examples being pilot working hours, state subsidies, negative polluting externalities, disability charges etc. The latest is the number of workers employed per aircraft. Apparently, those on precarious, temporary agency contracts, just don't count!

Because they are temporary contractors, Crewlink Ltd's 'not-in-the-plane' employees can be fired at will, can have lower pay and conditions (pensions, overtime payment etc) and are less likely to join a union.

With a view to the public interest, I include the article “Mick O’Leary's Phantom “Employees”” from this weeks Phoenix. Ideally it'll be used to trip up MO'L in any future media appearance....


ONE OF the main contrasts highlighted between Ryanair and Aer Lingus in the ongoing takeover battle is the vastly superior productivity at Ryanair where 30 staff are “employed”, compared with Aer Lingus’s 100 staff per aircraft. But most of those working with Ryanair are in fact employed by a completely separate operation, based in Bray, Co Wicklow – the little known Crewlink Ltd.

These days, Ryanair “employs” many of its staff through Crewlink and the hapless workers are actually employed by Crewlink rather than Ryanair, to which the staff are merely sub-contracted. This, of course, makes life a lot easier for Mick O’Leary as messy things like pensions are not his
Mick responsibility. Similarly, given O’Leary his phobia of unions, the Crewlink set-up makes it very easy to keep the dreaded lefties at bay, while the Crewlink employees cannot avail of the
share option packages of which O’Leary regularly boasts.

Crewlink Ltd was only incorporated two years ago and its principals are Frank Whelan and Judy Byrne – both with an address at Cliff Road, Bray – who are listed as holding a 50% stake each in the company. Whelan formerly worked with accountancy operation Foster McAteer Financial Services, while Byrne was formerly a director of Hibernian General Insurance. Clearly this pair have landed on their feet, given the huge numbers of cabin crew employed by Ryanair and the
high turnover at the company.

Crewlink recruits staff for all of Ryanair’s European bases, including those outside Ireland and the UK like Brussels-Charleroi, Grankfurt-Hahn, Giron-Barcelona and Stockholm-Skasta. Workers who complete a Crewlink training course at a cost of €1,200 maybe offered a fixed term employment contract with Whelan and Byrne’s operation, which in turn has a three year contract to
supply cabin crew staff to Ryanair. Unfortunately, Goldhawk was unable to contact either of the Crewlink principals as the telephone simply rang out.

Last year in Norway unions targeted a Ryanair drive to recruit 500 new employees in co-ordination with a local company called Avia Training, on the grounds that the staff were to be employed not by Ryanair but by Crewlink. O’Leary is also currently facing bolshy union activity in Spain and Italy and with Aer Lingus staff already expressing concerns over Ryanair’s modus operandi, it is
likely than the low profile Crewlink will become rather better known in the weeks ahead.


Norwegian unions block Ryanair recruitment!

In efforts to prevent Ryanair’s negative working practices from being brought to their shores, Norwegian unions last weekend (9 th April 2005) targeted a Ryanair drive to recruit 500 new employees that took place in Sandefjord. This event was taking place in co-ordination with Norwegian company Avia Training, although the potential recruits would not be employed by Ryanair or Avia Training but by Crewlink, an agency hired by Ryanair that is also based in Ireland.

Representatives from the Norwegian Union of Commerce and Office Employees (NUCOE) and Norwegian cabin crew union Norsk Kabinforening were at Avia Training in Sandefjord where they warned the group of approximately 50 people who had arrived there against the poor working conditions and social practices at Ryanair, as outlined on this website. The NUCOE also informed the potential recruits of the benefits of union membership and being organised when bargaining for better conditions, and also how to conduct themselves if they chose to ignore the warnings and work for Ryanair.

NUCOE and Norsk Kabinforening were interviewed by Norwegian television where they explained their reasons for intervening and why they did not recommend Norwegian people work for Ryanair.

Ryanair has rejected the union’s claims.

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