Pilots with French airline threaten to strike over Christmas

Pilots with Air France's budget airline Hop! have threatened to strike during the end-of-year holiday period if negotiations over working conditions remain blocked.

Pilots with French airline threaten to strike over Christmas
Photo: AFP
Thousands of people could be about to miss out on spending Christmas with loved ones.  
The biggest union among Air France pilots, SNPL has voted in favour of striking if negotiations over the working conditions at its regional subsidiary company Hop! do not move forward. 
The ongoing debate between Air France management and Hop! pilots includes a dispute over working hours, particularly concerning whether pilots should be asked to work with less than ten hours of break between the last flight of the day and the first of the morning, known as the “short nights” system. 
Officially, the parties must come to a consensus before the end of November and if that doesn't happen, Air France has the right to dictate working conditions, something the SNPL is eager to avoid. 
If the strike does go ahead, the SNPL could use its influence to convince pilots at other airlines to join in.
“A strike is extremely likely. There is a risk that the DGAC (France's Civil Aviation Authority) will try to avoid negotiating which is illegal in our opinion,” Christophe Tharrot, president of the SNPL told La Tribune. 
However Air France's Managing Director Franck Terner is still counting on reaching an agreement in the next few days. 
“If we do not sign by December 1st, we have the authority to pass the rules on working conditions for pilots without compromise. Of course, I hope we can come to an agreement,” Terner told industry reporters. 
“We have submitted our rules to the DGAC. There are not many points of contention. I am confident,” he added.  
If the strike goes ahead, it won't be the first time this year that Hop! pilots have resorted to taking action.


French customs officers strike over job cuts

Customs officers across France will walk out on Thursday in protest at job cuts that unions say will “weaken the customs network”.

French customs officers strike over job cuts

The national strike on Thursday, March 10th is expected to lead to delays at ports, airports and on the Eurostar.

The strike, which will include a rally outside the National Assembly building in Paris, was called by the CFDT-Douane and has the support of other unions. 

A work-to-rule protest over pay and conditions by customs officers in 2019, under the shadow of Brexit, led to delays and disruption at airports, as well as ports including Calais and Dunkirk, and on Eurostar trains.

Unions are calling on the government to axe plans to switch responsibility for import duty collection to the Direction Générale des Finances Publiques by 2024, at the cost of 700 customs’ officer jobs – and, according to strikers, tens of billions of euros to State coffers.

“We are asking for the reforms to be stopped, mainly that of the transfer of taxation, which is disorganising the network with the elimination of nearly a thousand jobs,” CFDT-Douane’s secretary general David-Olivier Caron said.

The planned job cuts come after years of restructuring and streamlining that has seen thousands of positions disappear, the unions say, when customs fraud and smuggling is rising because of a lack of resources.