Ryanair has sacked the six cabin crew members who posed for a photo of themselves sleeping on the floor of Málaga airport after their flights were disrupted due to the effects of Hurricane Leslie on October 13. The Portugal-based staff were revealed to have staged the image by the Irish airline, which shared security camera footage of the incident.
The low-cost carrier has justified the sackings because the image, which quickly went viral on social media and was also published by media outlets, “damaged the reputation of the company,” causing “an irreparable violation of trust” of the six employees.
The Spanish union SITCPLA responded to the disciplinary action by calling it “a new violation of all fundamental rights, not just as members of a union or as cabin crew or employees, but also as citizens.”
“Ryanair believes that it was damaged by the publication of that photo,” said Luciana Passo, the head of the SNPVAC cabin crew union in Portugal, “when it was nothing more than a display of the feelings of justified indignation by the members of the crew.”
The Spanish union SITCPLA responded to the disciplinary action by calling it “a new violation of all fundamental rights
The unions, who will appeal the sackings in the courts, say that the cabin crew members returned to Oporto the next day after the events of the photo “without proper rest, without sleeping at all,” and on the return flight to Portugal they were not given sandwiches or refreshments.
After the photo was revealed by Ryanair to have been staged, the unions – some of which had shared the image on social media – admitted that it was, in effect, a “visual staging” – but insisted that the employees had suffered appalling conditions overnight as a result of the disruption. A total of 24 Ryanair staff – 16 cabin crew and eight pilots – spent 13 hours in a crew room given that the company did not arrange accommodation for them.
Ryanair has had a torrid year in terms of relations with its workforce, with a number of strikes taking place over an ongoing battle between crew and the airline over their conditions, with the carrier insisting staff be taken on via Irish contracts rather than those from the employee’s country of origin. The company has since said that it will seek to reach an agreement with unions by Christmas on the issue.
English version by Simon Hunter.