The low-cost airline Ryanair has vigorously defended the way it employs cabin crews following accusations in Norway that it uses “slave contracts”.
A prominent trade union is backing two flight attendants who were sacked. The women, who were not employed directly by the airline but by Irish agencies, allege there is a “culture of fear” at Ryanair and say crews have no protection.
“I live in a country that is the most expensive ever and I have the same payment as a southern country wage, and even they don’t pay me for sickness,” said one of the former crew members, named as Alessandra.
Staff have also complained about working conditions. Ryanair denies exploitation.
“They just invented these false claims some six months after they were dismissed: one for breach of safety regulations, and two was dismissed because she wouldn’t turn up for work during her 12-month probation,” said Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s CEO.
The Ryanair boss claims the case is a union attempt to divert attention from negotiations over pay and job cuts at a rival airline.
The matter has been raised in the Norwegian parliament. Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg denied the government was too passive said it was seeking to clarify laws and regulations in the industry.
“This government fights social dumping, but within the airline industry, it’s extra complicated when it comes to countries and rules and free movement of labour,” he was quoted by Norwegian media as saying.