In a new judgment handed down on 1 July 2015 the Danish Labour Court has ruled that the Service Union (a union under The Danish Confederation of Trade Unions "LO") is allowed to organize an industrial action against the Irish airline company Ryanair Ltd with the purpose of getting Ryanair to adopt the Danish collective bargaining agreements for the employees who are going to work in Billund and Copenhagen.

Background:

Ryanair officially opened a base in Billund on 22 March 2015 and in Copenhagen on 26 March 2015. However, already before the official openings the Service Union had sent a letter to Ryanair in which they stated that Ryanair should adopt the Danish collective bargaining agreements on 9 January 2015. When Ryanair refused to enter into negotiation on this, the Service Union on 3 February 2015 sent a Notification of Industrial Action with blockade and strikes threatened from 26 March 2015.

The Service Union referred the case before the Danish Labour Court the same day.

The case:

The Danish Labour Court should decide whether the Notification of the Industrial Actions and sympathy strikes were legal.

The Service Union stated that it had the relevant and present interest in seeking a collective bargaining agreement for pilots and cabin crew working on Ryanair bases in Denmark as Ryanair's crew have their centre of work in Denmark. The Service Union emphases the base as an important factor, i.e. how or wherefrom the employee usually carries out their work. The Service Union noted in particular that the employees have to live near the base, i.e. either near Billund or Copenhagen, and that they will therefore be associated with the base in defined periods of service. On this basis, the Service Union stated that there is a sufficient connection to Denmark, and that Ryanair on that basis should adopt the Danish collective bargaining agreements.

The Service Union further states that the "Danish model" with a right to initiate an industrial action does not conflict with the fundamental principles on free movement in EU. It was further mentioned that the right to take Industrial Actions is a fundamental right also on treaty level.

Ryanair stated, however, that the notice of Industrial Action of 3 February 2015 was illegal under Danish law because the notice did not fulfil the formal requirements; among other things, Ryanair had not received any strike lists.

Furthermore, Ryanair stated that the notice lacked the relevant and present interest in seeking a collective bargaining agreement. This was particularly because the employees are employed under Irish law and are covered by Irish collective bargaining agreements. Further, because the majority of the employees work on board the Ryanair flights they should be on the same terms and conditions as work in Ireland. In addition, Ryanair rejected the "base" concept as Ryanair argued that the labor relation is governed by the place of employment which was Ireland.

The judgment from the Danish Labour Court:

The Danish Labour Court ruled that the Service Union can legally initiate industrial actions against Ryanair as the Service Union relevant and present interest in seeking a collective bargaining agreement. Furthermore, the Labour Court emphasized that the industrial action will not be in breach of EU law.

However, the Danish Labour Court also ruled that the specific notice of 3 February 2015 failed to meet the formal requirements as it among other things did not mention which employees would go on strike. The Service Union must therefore give a new notice before industrial actions can be initiated. The same is the case for the sympathy strikes which also must be filed again by the other LO-federations such as 3F, HK and Danish Metal.