Thursday, March 4, 2010

Bearing All the Hallmarks of Oppression

Blog readers interested in labor issues should make a point to read Michelle O'Sullivan & Patrick Gunnigle's Bearing All the Hallmarks of Oppression: Union Avoidance in Europe's Largest Low Cost Airline, 34 Labor Stud. J. 252 (2009) (available from SSRN here).

Ryanair is now Europe’s largest low cost airline. It is also one of the most controversial, due to its outspoken boss, its cost containment strategies and its hostile relations with organised labour. Ryanair has consistently denied accusations that it is anti-union, stating that it respects the right of workers to organise and even claiming to be a champion of its employee’s right to non-unionisation. However, this claim does not hold up in the face of extensive evidence of union suppression. This paper addresses such evidence, particularly the various methods by which Ryanair have avoided and suppressed unions. In Ireland, Ryanair successfully crushed an organising campaign by the country’s largest union, the Services, Industrial Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU), after a lengthy and bitter strike. The only other union continuing to challenge Ryanair is the Irish Airline Pilots Association (IALPA). However, its efforts recently suffered a major setback when the Supreme Court ruled that Ryanair’s non-union ‘Employee Representative Committees’ were a form of collective bargaining, allowing the company to affirm its non-union status.

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