A handful of the several dozen cabin crew supplementing their diets with donated food while making do in accommodations near the Moss, Østfold airport have told their story to NRK television reporters. Despite living in one of the priciest countries in the world, staff appear to be making an average of under 11,000 kroner (US$1,932) a month.
An average gross salary per year appears to be 150,000 kroner, or below 158,400 — a government set minimum income for surviving in Norway and the amount a pensioner on a minimum state payout gets.
Ryanair chief executive, Michael O’Leary, was shown saying the pay slips don’t tell the whole story.
A former Ryanair staffer, however, said staff are suffering from getting by on wages below the cost of living in Norway.
“(I was) working sometimes for seven or eight hours for 300 kroner. I mean, this is Norway. It’s slavery, and I don’t think the Norwegian government can accept this and let it happen,” said ex-Ryanair Rygge cabin staff David Puglisi.
The report said other staff confirmed Puglisi was right about getting just 150,000 kroner a year. He said some of those colleagues have had to sneak onto the train to work to save money.
Like the airline, staff pay tax to Ireland, a formality that puts them outside Norway’s carefully built up labour laws.
O’Leary has been unapologetic, and says senior cabin crew earn €31,000 a year while their juniors earn €24,000. The airline said the average salary was 185,000 kroner (currently €23,800, $32,800)) per year.
Meanwhile, customers are continuing to stream to Rygge for tickets to southern European destinations that have been lower than 100 kroner.
Norwegian labour leaders, meanwhile, called the news that Ryanair’s payroll is roughly half that of rival airline Norwegian another example of “social dumping”, a trade union catchword for the practice of employing low-cost staff in a high-cost country.
Norway’s unions recently fought a mostly successful battle to get building firms to pay Poles the going rate for carpentry and masonry work.
The Norwegian Federation of Labour Unions, or LO, has a court case pending with Ryanair. O’Leary and the company recently celebrated two million passengers in two years at Rygge, although the tough CEO said he could end Ryanair’s presence there if airport officials don’t lift limits on passengers.