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Unions hit out at Ryanair subsidiary which weakens workers' terms and conditions

UNIONS have hit out at Ryanair bosses for pressing ahead with a subsidiary in Poland which offers weaker terms and conditions for staff at the struggling budget airline.

Ryanair Sun staff will be on self-employed contracts and are denied basic employment rights, including sick pay. They have been warned that it is a union-busting operation.

The model has been abandoned in other European countries, where the company has faced a wave of strike action forcing it to recognise trade unions.

However, bosses are keen to expand the Polish-registered company, fearing that improved workers’ rights could hit profits, with Ryanair losing a third of its value over the past 12 months due to industrial strife.

It also faces legal action from the Civil Aviation Authority over its refusal to pay compensation to the thousands of passengers that had flights cancelled over the summer.

Poland is the company’s largest market in eastern Europe and bosses see it as the driving force of its business expansion plans.

Ryanair claimed that staff prefer the flexibility of the self-employed contracts, arguing that they benefit from higher wages with the model in line with other Polish airlines.

However, trade unions claimed bosses had set up the company to avoid dealing with them – with the company refusing to rule out the expansion of the model into other markets.

European Cockpit Association general secretary Philip von Schoppenthau said: “On the one hand, Ryanair is busy reaching out to the unions to show a new socially responsible face. But at the same time they are busy working in the opposite direction building up a potentially union-free, by design union-free, company, Ryanair Sun.”

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