(CN) – Ryanair flight attendants can fight their contract dispute with the Irish budget carrier where they’re based rather than in Ireland, a European Court of Justice adviser said Thursday.
Six Ryanair flight attendants whose home base is Charleroi Airport in Belgium brought employment lawsuits in a Belgian court. All six had been recruited by either Ryanair or its labor contractor Crewlink – also based in Ireland – and are citizens of Portugal, Spain and Belgium, further muddying the jurisdictional waters.
Doubting it has jurisdiction to hear the case, the Belgian court asked the European Court of Justice for guidance. Specifically, the Belgian court asked for a clear interpretation of EU jurisdictional law as to “place where the employee habitually carries out his work” in the context of airline employees.
In a 12-page advisory opinion, Advocate General Henrik Saugmandsgaard Oe said settled case law says disputes of employees who work in more than one EU state are heard where the employee does the bulk of their work.
While the Belgian court must ultimately decide if it has jurisdiction in the labor dispute, Saugmandsgaard Oe offered six guidelines to help: where the workers start and end their days, where the aircraft they work on is based, where they receive employer instructions, where they’re contractually obligated to live, where the office they go to is located and where they’re subject to disciplinary action should that occur.
Saugmandsgaard Oe said the six criteria unequivocally point to the court nearest Charleroi Airport as the one having jurisdiction to hear the flight attendants’ dispute, particularly since Ryanair contractually requires all six to live within an hour of the airport.
The adviser added that being employed by Ireland-based companies is irrelevant, as is the nationalities of the flight attendants.
Saugmandsgaard Oe’s opinion is not binding on the European high court, which has begun its deliberations in the case.