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Danish Ryanair row inspires unions abroad

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Danish Ryanair row inspires unions abroad
Andrew Yates/Scanpix
10:44 CEST+02:00
Unions in Europe and beyond have showered Danish labour unions with praise in the weeks following the conclusion of their conflict with Ryanair, which relocated both its bases out of Denmark earlier this month.

The row between Danish labour unions and Ryanair recently concluded with the airline announcing that it would relocate its Danish bases in Copenhagen and Billund.

See also: Ryanair to relocate Copenhagen base to Lithuania

The conflict was technically led by the Danish Flight Personnel Union (FPU) and Services Union, but later received support from the entire Confederation of Danish Trade Unions (LO), which threatened to organise a strike that would cripple Ryanairs ability to operate in Denmark.

The Danish unions have since been showered with praise and statements of solidarity from other unions around the world, congratulating the Danes on having scored a victory for worker's rights.

Head of FPU Thilde Waast told DR that she had spent days replying to emails from union representatives around the world.

“It's pretty overwhelming, and I'm actually surprised that this case has made such a big impression. It does however demonstrate that the attitude Ryanair has towards unions and their own employees is perceived as contentious in many other places around the world,” Waast told DR.

See also: Ryanair: 'Selfish' unions 'destroying' Danish jobs

Unions in countries such as Belgium, Germany, France and Norway, where Ryanair has a strong presence, have been among those that have sent congratulations to FPU and the Confederation of Trade Unions.

Yet even unions from more distant countries including Swaziland, Mongolia, Nigeria and the Philippines have also contacted Waast to congratulate her.

Waast told DR of an email from Dennis George, general secretary of Fedusa – South Africa's umbrella organization for labour unions – who promised his full support to his Danish counterparts and noted that “it is the role of unions worldwide to stand against the spirit of capitalism, where profit-boosting ambitions are prioritized over workers' rights, conditions and salaries.”

Waast believes that the highly publicised Danish union row with the airline has made unions in other countries consider taking up the fight with Ryanair.

See also: Copenhagen mayor takes on Ryanair

“I get the impression that this has really encouraged unions in European countries where Ryanair operates. In many places they have been particularly inspired by the Danish unions' ability to call for sympathy strikes and the effect that has. However, a lot of them are investigating whether that is possible in their own country to stand together in the fight for better work conditions,” she told DR.

LO took Ryanair to the Danish Labour Court (Arbejdsretten) to determine whether the airline needed to adhere to Danish or Irish rules while operating at the Copenhagen Airport. The court ruled in LO's favour, clearing the way for a legal strike against Ryanair.

Ryanair abandoned its bases in both Billund and Copenhagen earlier this month as a result of the subsequent strike warning from the Services Union, a member of LO. According to airline spokesman Eddie Wilson, the “misguided actions” of the unions will result in “over 130 highly paid pilot and cabin crew jobs” leaving Denmark.

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