RYANAIR is to face criminal charges in court accused of employing people illegally.
The low-cost air company is accused of employing staff at its base in Marseille on an Irish work status, involving Irish taxes and charges which are lesser than the ones payable under French rules.
French law is clear-cut: local working law applies if people are based in the country and start and finish their working day there.
The prosecution will cite as evidence 300sq.m of working premises, 95 employees’ lockers with their names, meeting and rest rooms etc.
The charge dates to 2010, when an investigation was opened into working practices at Marseille airport, where Ryanair had based four planes and 200 personnel from 2006.
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary reacted at the time by saying French justice was out of line with EU rules, threatening to leave Marseille and saying 1,000 direct and indirect jobs were on the line.
Since last year Ryanair has continued to run services to Marseille but has stopped basing planes there. O’Leary said Marseille had become its least profitable French airport, with a million passengers last year, down a third on the year before.
However French justice is sticking to its guns – it says the firm was wrong to employ under Irish rules while working in the same conditions as other firms established in France; hence the summons to court.
Another firm, easyJet, was previously found guilty in France of the same thing, but has since adapted itself to French law.
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