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21/05/2019

The Ryanair case in the Italian and European framework: who decides the rules of the game?

WP C.S.D.L.E. “Massimo D’Antona”.IT – 148/2019



This article has been presented, in a draft version, at the XII World Congress of the International Society for Labour and Social Security Law (ISLSSL) ‘Transformations of Work: challenges for the National Systems of Labour Law and Social Security’, held in Turin, on the 7 September 2018. A shorter version has been published in Casale G. - Treu T. (eds), Transformations of work: challenges for the national systems of labour law and social security, XXII World Congress of the International Society for Labour and Social Security Law, Giappichelli, 2018.
Although the paper results from a common research, Marco Tufo is the author of Chapters 1 and 2, Giovanni Calvellini of Chapter 3, and Giulia Frosecchi of Chapter 4. Chapter 5 has been written jointly by the three authors. We would like to thank the participants in the Congress for the helpful remarks. We are also especially grateful to the Italian unionist (who prefers to remain anonymous) that has kindly provided information and details about the Ryanair case



The present paper aims to address the Ryanair case from a labour law and industrial relations point of view, as an example of a company which systematically adopts social dumping practises and exploits legislative gaps. After the description of the working conditions in the airline company, the analysis focuses on the main transnational issues stemmed from the case studied. Indeed, as Ryanair is a transnational company, it tries to apply the most favourable legislation for its commercial objectives. For this reason, the theme of the applicable legislation to the employment contract, social security, employer’s administrative obligations and jurisdiction is treated, with special reference to the solutions carried out by EU Institutions and, more recently, by the EU Court of Justice at this regard. It is then described the industrial relations system in Ryanair. Because of the absence of Trade Unions in this context due to the anti-union policy adopted by the airline, Trade Unions have organised several collective actions and, in some occasions, Italian courts have recognised the anti-union practises of Ryanair as a violation of labour law. However, regardless of the Trade Unions’ efforts to set a social dialogue and conclude a meaningful company agreement, Ryanair still adopts an obstructionist approach, with only minor openings to social partners. Only most recently, in order to avoid the deterioration of its public image before the consumers and prevent further strike actions, the airline company has concluded collective agreements with Trade Unions in some European countries. The Ryanair case shows all the difficulties of the EU in constructing a social dimension together with the necessity to develop forms of collective solidarity at transnational level able to reduce the effects of social dumping.

author(s): Calvellini, Giovanni; Frosecchi, Giulia; Tufo, Marco
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