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Visiting France

Ryanair fined thousands for dodging French labour law

media Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary Jean-Paul Pelissier/ Reuters

Ryanair has been fined 200,000 euros and ordered to pay 10 million euros in damages for breaking France's labour laws. But the court rejected the prosecutors' call to confiscate four Boeing 737s from the low-cost airline.

The company was found guilty on Wednesday of registering workers employed in France as Irish staff, preventing workplace councils from functioning and blocking access to unions.

The company also failed to pay social security contributions in France.

The court in the southern city of Aix-en-Provence ordered compensation to be paid to the employment service, social security cash collectors and a pilots' union but did not go along with a prosecution argument that goods, including the four planes, that had been "used to commit the offences" should be seized.

For four years, between 2006 and 2011, Ryanair based the four planes and 127 staff at an airport in southern France without applying French labour law or declaring French taxes.

The carrier said it would appeal against the decision, claiming it was only required to pay contributions in Ireland, where it is based, although the staff all lived in France.

Ryanair claims the court was protecting flag carrier Air France from competition.

A similar decision in 2010 saw British low-cost airline Easyjet pay 1.4 million euros to France's public employment agency.

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