Faced with more strikes, Ryanair prepared to move jobs to Poland

Ryanair, which operates from 86 bases in 37 countries, has already said it plans to move crew and planes from Dublin, saying strikes there are harming bookings. (Reuters)
Updated 31 July 2018

Faced with more strikes, Ryanair prepared to move jobs to Poland

VIENNA: Faced with the prospect of widening strikes by crews in Europe, Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O’Leary on Tuesday threatened to move more jobs to Poland if walk-outs hurt its business.
Europe’s largest airline by passenger numbers pledged in December to recognize unions for the first time but it has struggled to reach collective labor agreements with some.
Its pilots in Germany voted overwhelmingly on Monday in favor of striking, adding to Ryanair’s recent labor woes after strikes last week by Dublin-based pilots and stoppages by cabin crew in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Belgium.
Ryanair, which operates from 86 bases in 37 countries and carried 130 million passengers last year, has already said it plans to move crew and planes from Dublin, saying strikes there are harming bookings.
O’Leary on Tuesday said he was prepared to cut jobs “in any market” if necessary.
“We are the ultimate opportunistic airline,” O’Leary told a news conference at its Austrian unit Laudamotion’s offices.
“We have today — in Ryanair — 20 markets that need more aircraft. We’re short of aircraft in almost every market in which we operate because of the demand for our prices, our services,” he said, adding those included Poland, which is home to its Ryanair Sun unit.
“If some market is being damaged as the Irish market has been damaged in recent months by these activities, the Polish market is growing hugely strongly for us, the Ryanair Sun is very full, profitable, we need more aircraft in the Polish market — move aircraft to Poland.”
Pilots are demanding more transparent systems for promotions and transfers to reduce what they say is excessive management discretion over their careers, while cabin crew want local contracts and better conditions.
“As long as there’s common sense on their side then we’ll reach agreements,” O’Leary said, speaking of unions and pilots in general.
“If we have people who just want to have strikes for the sake of having strikes then they can have strikes and they’ll find themselves (with) jobs getting moved and aircraft getting moved.”
O’Leary also said he wanted to grow Laudamotion and Ryanair Sun more quickly, which would require additional planes and crew — a challenge in today’s environment. If an airline collapsed, however, that would make crew and planes more readily available.


Japan’s Uniqlo pulls ad after South Korean fury

Updated 21 October 2019

Japan’s Uniqlo pulls ad after South Korean fury

  • South Korean and Japanese relationship is deeply strained by the legacy of Tokyo’s 20th-century expansionism
  • Seoul and Tokyo are currently locked in a bitter trade and diplomatic row stemming from historical disputes
SEOUL: Japanese retail giant Uniqlo has pulled a commercial featuring a 98-year-old US fashion figure from South Korean screens, it said Monday after it was accused of whitewashing colonial history.
South Korea and Japan are both US allies, democracies and market economies faced with an overbearing China and nuclear-armed North Korea, but their relationship is deeply strained by the legacy of Tokyo’s 20th-century expansionism.
The latest example is an advert for Uniqlo fleeces showing elderly fashion celebrity Iris Apfel chatting with designer Kheris Rogers, 85 years her junior.
The last line has the white-haired Apfel, asked how she used to dress as a teenager, innocuously responding: “Oh my God. I can’t remember that far back.”
But Uniqlo’s Korean arm subtitled its version of the ad slightly differently, reading: “I can’t remember things that happened more than 80 years ago.”
That would put the moment as 1939, toward the end of Japan’s brutal colonial rule over the Korean peninsula, where the period is still bitterly resented, and some South Koreans reacted furiously.
“A nation that forgets history has no future. We can’t forget what happened 80 years ago that Uniqlo made fun of,” commented one Internet user on Naver, the country’s largest portal.
The phrase “Uniqlo, comfort women,” in reference to women forced to become sex slaves to Japanese troops during the Second World War, was among the most searched terms on Naver at the weekend, and demonstrators protested outside Uniqlo shops on Monday.
Seoul and Tokyo are currently locked in a bitter trade and diplomatic row stemming from historical disputes, and South Korean consumers have mounted boycotts of Japanese products.
Uniqlo — which has 186 stores in South Korea — has itself been one of the highest-profile targets, while Japanese carmakers’ sales dropped nearly 60 percent year-on-year in September.
The company denied the allegations in a statement, saying the text was altered to highlight the age gap between the individuals and show that its fleeces were for people “across generations.”
“The ad had no intention whatsoever to imply anything” about colonial rule, a Uniqlo representative said on Monday, adding the firm had withdrawn the ad in an effort at damage control.
Analysts said the controversy demonstrated the politicization of the neighbors’ complex history.
The reaction was excessive, said Kim Sung-han, a former foreign affairs vice minister who teaches at Korea University, involving a “jump in logic” that “assumes everything Uniqlo does is political as a Japanese company.”
“I don’t see how her remark could be linked to the comfort women issue,” he added. “This is overly sensitive.”