Ryanair chief says labor union claims of bullying are 'complete rubbish' amid staff walkouts

  • The row over pay and conditions at the Irish airline follows a series of strikes over the summer months, with walkouts taking place in Germany, Sweden, Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands.
  • Speaking to CNBC's Willem Marx in London on Wednesday, O'Leary said claims Ryanair had been bullying trade unions in more than half a dozen countries across Europe were "complete rubbish."
  • In August, the airline struck a deal with Irish pilots and said it was hopeful over securing further deals over the coming weeks.

Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O'Leary told CNBC on Wednesday that labor union claims of bullying and intimidation at the company are "fundamentally wrong."

The row over pay and working conditions at Europe's largest low-cost carrier follows a series of strikes over the summer months, with walkouts taking place in Germany, Sweden, Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Speaking to CNBC's Willem Marx in London on Wednesday, O'Leary said claims Ryanair had been bullying trade unions in more than half a dozen countries across Europe were "complete rubbish."

Labor talks

On Wednesday, pilots and cabin crew at the Irish airline in Germany started another full-day walkout to put pressure on management amid labor talks. The carrier was forced to cancel 150 flights out of 400 scheduled to fly to and from Germany because of the 24-hour strikes.

Affected passengers were set to be offered alternative flights, the airline said.

In a statement, Ryanair said that while Wednesday's strikes would damage the firm's business in Europe's largest economy, the impact of the walkout would be "limited."

In August, the airline struck a deal with Irish pilots and said it was hopeful over securing further deals over the coming weeks.

However, seven trade unions representing cabin crews in Italy, Portugal, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands have since threatened to strike later this month — unless Ryanair promises to improve working conditions.

The unions warned it would be "the biggest strike action" the company had ever seen.

'Fundamentally wrong'

Ahead of the interview, Portugal's trade union (SNPVAC) told CNBC's Willem Marx that Ryanair had a "very unique interpretation of European regulations."

They also said "bullying" and "intimidation" characterized the airline very well.

Meanwhile, Italy's trade union (FILT-CGIL) accused Ryanair of being "very impolite" and having no respect for Italian law.

In addition to that, Spain's trade union (SITCPLA) said the company could not be trusted and were guilty of "lying all the time."

When asked whether there is a problem with the management culture at Ryanair — and whether he was part of that problem — Ryanair's O'Leary replied: "No, the quotes are complete rubbish."

"We should move on because actually the claims you have been making here by your discussions with a couple of union officials are fundamentally wrong," he added.