Committee Chairs question Ryanair on worker allegations

20 December 2017

Frank Field MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, and Rachel Reeves MP, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, write to Michael O'Leary, Chief Executive of Ryanair on a series of allegations on its work model and practices, revealed in the Daily Mail on Monday.

Exploiting workers for competitive advantage

Rt Hon Frank Field MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, said:

"Sadly, it will not surprise me if the sorry picture painted here is true: a company that turned in £1.15bn profit last year squeezing its workers. People who work long, hard hours and have an important role in passenger safety, and yet apparently cannot count on receiving the National Minimum Wage – or even close to it.

Ryanair once tried to make its passengers pay to use the loo – now they even make their workers pay to quit. As well as foisting a host of other miserly – and potentially unlawful – requirements on them.

The dice are loaded entirely in favour of mega-profitable companies who are willing to shamelessly exploit workers to obtain a competitive advantage. We set out in our draft Bill a new "future of employment" and there will be no room for these shoddy - or illegal - practices in it.

The Government should legislate now to ensure workers are better protected from this kind of exploitation, and begin to enforce the law with much more vigour. Ryanair – and their workers - can rest assured that we and our colleagues on BEIS will be investigating these allegations further."

Hours of unpaid work

Rachel Reeves MP, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee, said:

"These allegations of hours of unpaid work, of charges for uniforms, of fees being incurred to leave, suggest a company falling well short of its duty to the staff who help their planes get off the ground and who spend the flight attending to and serving its paying customers.

This appears to be evidence of a company trying to wiggle out of its basic responsibility to pay its workers the National Minimum Wage.

When companies face the prospect of being inspected for breaches of the NMW once every 500 years then we not only need new laws but also much tougher enforcement, cracking down on businesses seeking to exploit their workers to gain a competitive advantage.
Ryanair now need to provide answers on the fees and charges faced by cabin staff and set out how they ensure these staff are receiving the National Minimum Wage."

A framework for modern employment

The BEIS and Work and Pensions Committee recently published a joint report, A Framework for Modern Employment, which set out proposals to ensure that the benefits of a flexible workforce are enjoyed both by businesses and by workers.

The report, supported by evidence from the Taylor Review and Sir David Metcalf, the Government's Director of Labour Market Enforcement, recommended a greater focus on scrutinising supply chains and the Committee heard compelling evidence on the role of large companies in ensuring compliance across their supply chains.

Further information

Image: iStock Photo

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