By Joanna Plucinska
WARSAW (Reuters) - Ryanair
Ryanair, Europe's largest low-cost carrier, is already trying to cope with an industrial relations revolt across the region, with pilots and cabin crew staging strikes in several countries over employment conditions.
In Poland, a union representing Polish cabin crew has refused to sign the new contracts which the company's local subsidiary wants to introduce.
But Jacobs said the new contract reflected the local market.
"It's the local type of contract, the same as (national Polish carrier) LOT and other airlines," Jacobs said.
Many Polish Ryanair staff are currently on contracts provided by the parent company, but are being asked to transfer to the new contracts as Ryanair's main operation in Poland is handed to Ryanair Sun, a local subsidiary.
Paulo Conceicao, secretary of the Polish cabin crew union, CWR, who works as cabin crew at Ryanair, told Reuters that the self-employed contract would mean staff would lose important rights such as sick pay and maternity leave.
"All the rights embedded into your labour contract are liquidated," he said.
Analysts have said that the transfer to self-employed contracts gives airlines more flexibility and will save them money.
Jacobs said staff would get higher salaries as a result of the shift and could also be relocated elsewhere in Europe if they are not satisfied with the contracts.
Ryanair employs 400 cabin crew in Poland, according to the union, of which about three-quarters are union members.
Ryanair staff have received support from unions representing workers from Poland's state-run airline LOT, who went on strike on Thursday over working conditions.
"We will work together (with Ryanair's union) to fight self-employment. We plan on raising this on the European and national stage," Agnieszka Szelagowska, a leader at LOT's union told a news conference on Wednesday.
Ryanair plans to continue its expansion and hiring in Central and Eastern Europe, Jacobs said.
(Reporting by Joanna Plucinska; Editing by Marcin Goclowski and Jane Merriman)