Ryanair faces probe over working conditions

Ryanair is to be investigated by two powerful parliamentary committees following damning allegations over employee working conditions at the budget airline.

MPs Frank Field and Rachel Reeves, chairs of the Work and Pensions and Business select committees, have written to the airline's boss, Michael O'Leary, to demand answers amid claims of staff being underpaid, having to fork out for their own uniforms and incurring fees when they leave.

Ms Reeves even accused the company of "trying to wiggle out" of paying the National Minimum Wage.

Labour veteran Mr Field added: "Sadly, it will not surprise me if the sorry picture painted here is true: a company that turned in £1.15 billion profit last year squeezing its workers.

"People who work long, hard hours and have an important role in passenger safety, and yet apparently cannot count on receiving the National Minimum Wage - or even close to it.

"Ryanair once tried to make its passengers pay to use the loo - now they even make their workers pay to quit. As well as foisting a host of other miserly - and potentially unlawful - requirements on them."

He said that the two committees "will be investigating these allegations further".

The letter to Mr O'Leary sets out in detail the allegations, which include staff having to pay £25 per month for their uniform in the first year of employment and stomaching a £175 "administration cost", taken from their salaries, if they leave in the first 15 months.

Ms Reeves said: "These allegations of hours of unpaid work, of charges for uniforms, of fees being incurred to leave, suggest a company falling well short of its duty to the staff who help their planes get off the ground and who spend the flight attending to and serving its paying customers.

"Ryanair now need to provide answers on the fees and charges faced by cabin staff and set out how they ensure these staff are receiving the National Minimum Wage."

For its part, Ryanair earlier this week said it is to recognise cabin crew unions for the first time as part of a major shake-up in employee relations.

The decision, after years of trenchant opposition, follows threatened pre-Christmas strike action by Irish-based pilots, which was later called off.

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