Ryanair faces case in Norwegian court

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Low-fare Irish airline Ryanair must, for the first time, defend itself in a Norwegian court and prove that its firing of a Norwegian-based worker was in line with tough Norwegian labour law. The case may have international consequences for the unconventional carrier, which also has experienced technical difficulty recently on two of its landings in Norway.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Tuesday that a court in Moss, south of Oslo, has set aside an employment contract Ryanair claimed it had with the worker, who was fired for allegedly manipulating sales on board the aircraft and having one day of unauthorized absence.

The worker, who was based at the Moss airport at Rygge that Ryanair uses, sued on the grounds of unlawful termination under Norwegian law. His employment contract maintained that Irish law prevailed, not the law where the employee lived and worked, but now the Norwegian court has ruled that’s not true.

“Ryanair has claimed all along that it can contract itself away from the laws of the land where its employees live,” Peggy Følsvik, the lawyer for the fired worker, told NRK. “That’s what the Norwegian court has rejected, as long as the employee lives and works in Norway.”

Ryanair officials, who declined to comment on the case, must now face the charges filed against them when the case gets underway in December. They also must try to prove that their firing of the worker did not violate the worker’s rights, which are strong under Norwegian law.

Følsvik told NRK that the case is being followed closely by labour lawyers and Ryanair workers in other countries where the cut-rate carrier flies, and may have consequences for the airline’s employment practices beyond Norway’s borders.

Ryanair reportedly chose to close one of its bases in France after it was forced to provide workers with contracts under French law. Speculation was rising over whether Ryanair may simply pull out of Norway as well, or at least out of the Moss airport at Rygge. The airline has also been the target of complaints over its use of pilots, with tax authorities looking into their terms of hire and tax liability.

Meanwhile, passengers told NRK they weren’t scared by two incidents in the past week-and-a-half that involved technical trouble with Ryanair’s aircraft upon landing at Rygge. On Monday evening, a flight from Warsaw had trouble with its flaps, as did a flight from Alicante the week before. Repairs were made and the aircraft were put back in service.

“We were kept informed and know that they have modern aircraft,” passenger Svein Bang-Nielsen told NRK. “We’d never experienced anything negative before.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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