Ryanair settles landmark Norway ‘slave contract’ case with ex-stewardess

Ryanair settles landmark Norway 'slave contract' case with ex-stewardess
Cocca's union says the settlement is a 'victory for all workers in Norway'. File picture: Cornelius Poppe / NTB scanpix
Ryanair has settled a landmark case with an ex-air stewardess in Norway who described the company's working conditions like being on a "slave contract".

Ryanair has agreed to pay 570,000 kroner (€64,000) to a former stewardess who claimed she was wrongly dismissed, her union said Friday. She described Ryanair's working conditions as being on a “slave contract”.

The four-year-long case has received a lot of attention since the Italian stewardess Alessandra Cocca fought to have her case heard in Norway, where she was based and where employee protection is much stronger than in Ireland. It has been heard in Norwegian courts twice already.

“After two court rounds, we’re now ready to settle this issue,” Parat labour union lawyer Christen Horn said of the settlement arrangement which he said amounts to an equivalent of about three of Cocca’s annual salaries while at Ryanair.

Parat spokesman Vegard Einan said the settlement agreement was a ”victory for all workers in Norway”.

“A number of sectors, with the airline industry at the helm, are in the midst of becoming internationalised. In many areas, the free-flow of capital and labour is positive, but our mission, as a powerful union, is to protect the rights of workers based in Norway,” he was cited by news agency NTB as saying.

“This case has confirmed that that international companies which wish to operate in Norway cannot escape from their obligations, like Ryanair tried to in this case.” 

In a statement released to The Local, Ryanair said it rejected Parat's claims. 

“Ms Cocca (who began flying for Crewlink in April 2012) was dismissed in January 2013 by Crewlink during her probation, after being offloaded from a flight by the Captain for her failure to comply with key safety requirements. This incident was the last in a series of safety failures by this individual during her 10 month period of employment with Crewlink,” the airline said. 

“Crewlink settled this case, as the legal costs of the trial in the Norwegian courts would far exceed the settlement payment, a case which no longer has any relevance since Ryanair no longer operates any bases in Norway following the Oct ’16 closure of the Rygge base.”