A marathon session in the Danish Labour Court (Arbejdsretten) on Monday failed to reached a conclusion on whether budget Irish airline Ryanair’s Copenhagen Airport operations are subject to the labour laws of Denmark or Ireland.
The Danish Confederation of Trade Unions (LO), the country's largest union centre, initiatied the so-called ‘recognition proceedings’ to determine whether Ryanair must follow Danish rules. If the court rules that it does, it will clear the way for a blockade that would bar members of unions including 3F, Dansk Metal and HK from doing work for Ryanair, thus effectively making it impossible for the company to operate out of Copenhagen Airport.
Ryanair has repeatedly rejected the notion that its operations in Denmark should be a concern of the labour unions, arguing that “Ryanair is a company with good employee conditions” and that its “presence in Copenhagen will create many new jobs,” as the company’s personnel director Eddie Wilson said at a February press conference.
The airline has warned that if the court rules in the unions’ favour, Ryanair will drop its Copenhagen base, resulting in “a loss of good jobs” in the Danish capital.
Monday’s court proceedings ran nearly until midnight but failed to provide a clear answer on Ryanair’s operating rules or the legality of an eventual blockade from LO.
“We will make a decision as quickly as possible and justifiable. The lawyers will receive a few days’ notice when there is a decision,” the court wrote according to broadcaster DR.
For now, Ryanair can continue to operate out of its Copenhagen base and any actions taken by the labour unions would be viewed by the airline as a violation of EU laws.
Ryanair has already filed a complaint with the EU Commission over what it sees as ”unlawful travel bans” by Copenhagen Mayor Frank Jensen and others who have forbidden public employees from using the airline.
Jensen has said that his ban does not target Ryanair specifically but rather any company that does not have a Danish collective bargaining agreement and doesn’t “offer their employees proper salaries and working conditions”. The municipalities of Albertslund, Ballerup, Brøndby, Hvidovre, Ishøj, Ringsted, Roskilde and Tårnby have also declared that employees can only fly with airlines that have Danish collective bargaining agreements.
Ryanair has gone after Jensen in a public Twitter fued in which they dubbed him “Copenahgen’s High Fare Mayor”. Some of Jensen’s political supporters responded in kind by tweeting insults back at Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary.