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EU PolicyWatch

Database of national-level policy measures

Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for measure IE-2020-27/1510 – measures in Ireland

Four year emergency agreement concluded at Ryanair

Country Ireland , applies nationwide
Time period Temporary, 01 July 2020 – 01 July 2024
Context COVID-19
Type Bipartite collective agreements
Category Protection of workers, adaptation of workplace
– Changes in work organisation
Author Roisin Farelly (IRN Publishing) and Eurofound
Measure added 30 November 2020 (updated 26 January 2021)

Background information

The airline Ryanair and union Fórsa have agreed a four-year agreement including temporary pay cuts in order to save cabin crew jobs at the airline. The emergency agreement was concluded due to the huge reduction in airline bookings and travel due to the ongoing restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Content of measure

The agreement involves pay cuts of up to 10% with a 4-year pay restoration period, as well as productivity and rostering arrangements. It states that the airline requires a 4-year timeframe to return to pre-COVID-19 profitability levels and to enable it re-build “the strength of balance sheet necessary for its business model in the highly cyclical aviation industry”.

It is to run from July 1, 2020 – July 1, 2024 with a review of the arrangements by the parties in March 2023.

Redundancies: “The thrust of measures agreed is to minimise redundancies through a combination of pay cuts of up to 10% restored over the term of the agreement, along with rostering changes including part-time, unpaid leave, weekend rosters and maximising the use of the COVID-19 wage subsidy scheme while it is available.”

Pay Cuts and Pay Restoration: “During the gradual return to full schedules, Cabin Crew will be paid fixed pay proportionately for days worked at the reduced rates as per points II and III below.” Pay will reflect the volume of work available and will be spread “as evenly as possible amongst Cabin Crew in the base”. In the event that the Irish Government wage subsidy scheme payment (if applicable) is higher than proportionate pay, the higher amount will be payable.

There will be no pay or cost increases or pay claims between 1 Jul 20 and 30 June 24.

Use of measure

Following on from the agreement signed in June and due to the continuing restrictions on airline travel, in November Ryanair wrote to Fórsa expressing its regret for assigning compulsory unpaid leave to staff for a period of 5 weeks in Dublin, blaming the move on the Government’s “failure to implement a coherent air travel policy”.

Company HR committed to continuing to engage with the union “in relation to our Irish based crew, especially if there is any further deterioration in our schedules”.

Fórsa’s assistant general secretary, Ashley Connolly, confirmed that a priority for the union will be to engage with the company, “as a matter of urgency, on returning staff in both bases to work in 2021”.

The Fórsa/Ryanair Collective Labour Agreement (CLA) covering directly-employed cabin crew jointly acknowledges that further reductions in the flying schedule in Ireland means that redundancies could be required, “but Ryanair and Fórsa agree to consult and work to minimise any job losses while fully complying with all legal obligations on information and consultation.”


  • Basic working time
  • Bonuses
  • Employment retention
  • Pay freezes or cuts
  • Work organisation
  • Working time flexibility

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Particular professions
Does not apply to businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
Trade unions
Company / Companies

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Agreed (outcome) incl. social partner initiative No involvement
Form Not applicable Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Social partners jointly
  • Main level of involvement: N/A


The airline Ryanair and union Fórsa concluded a collective agreement. The four-year agreement includes temporary pay cuts and aims to save cabin crew jobs at the airline. The emergency agreement was concluded due to the huge reduction in airline bookings and travel due to the ongoing restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Views and reactions

Forsa members balloted on the agreement and accepted it. Fórsa official Ashley Connolly said: "Our cabin crew members understand the severity of this crisis. They've backed an agreement that protects their job and provides for a review of circumstances should they improve sooner than expected. Equally, it was important for us to have the restoration of pay built in to the agreement."

Sectors and occupations

    • Economic area Sector (NACE level 2)
      H - Transportation And Storage H51 Air transport
    • Occupation (ISCO level 2)
      Street and related sales and service workers



Eurofound (2020), Four year emergency agreement concluded at Ryanair, measure IE-2020-27/1510 (measures in Ireland), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.