Ryanair chairman gets shareholder slapdown amid strikes

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GORMANSTON, Ireland – Ryanair shareholders delivered a blow on Thursday to the no-frills airline's chairman amid widespread strike action by European staff. 

Chairman David Bonderman was re-elected but only with 70.5 percent of the vote at the annual general meeting at a hotel in Gormanston near Dublin. At last year's meeting he garnered 89.1 percent of the vote. The company's flamboyant chief executive Michael O'Leary was re-elected with 98.5 percent of the vote. 

The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF), a shareholder, had earlier recommended that members vote against Ryanair's report and accounts and block Bonderman's re-election. "Ryanair has failed to adequately address concerns about the company's troubled relationship with its employees and the potential impact on its business," LAPFF chair Ian Greenwood said in a statement. 

"The company faces more strikes, and allegations of poor working conditions continue to emerge", Greenwood said. "Questions about the company's business model and governance now pose a threat to shareholder value." 

Stephen Cotton, general secretary of the International Transport Workers' Federation in a statement to AFP said the choice of venue for Thursday's meeting -- a motorway hotel outside Dublin -- showed "that Ryanair is running scared". 
"These are not the signs of a mature company with a sustainable industrial relations model."Last week cabin crew in Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Portugal announced a 24-hour strike for September 28 -- a stoppage unions said will be the biggest strike in the Irish carrier's history. 

It follows from industrial action last month which saw pilots from five European nations holding their first-ever simultaneous walkout, causing around 400 flight cancellations and travel chaos for 55,000 passengers. 

The Irish airline has since struck an "in principle" deal with Italian staff, which according to unions will allow crews to work with contracts composed under Italian law rather than Irish legislation and make provisions for salary increases and a pension scheme. 


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