Brussels — On Wednesday, the European Commission ordered Ryanair to respect EU rules by giving workers contracts in the country they live rather than in Ireland where its planes are registered. Europe’s largest low-cost carrier has traditionally employed a significant proportion of its staff under Irish law, which unions say inconveniences staff and impedes them from accessing local social security benefits. After a meeting with European employment commissioner Marianne Thyssen, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said the demand was “irrelevant” as the company has already written to unions in all EU countries offering to move staff to local contracts. Since announcing in December last year that it will recognise trade unions for the first time in its 30-year history, Ryanair has accelerated a shift from Irish to local contracts as part of recognition talks with various unions. But the unions have held a series of strikes in recent months, citing disagreements over terms including, in sever...

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