French air crews cancel plans for January strike

French airline crews have called off plans for strike action running from January 3rd.

French air crews cancel plans for January strike
Photo: AFP

The SNPL union, the largest union representing French pilots and air crew, has announced that after talks with the government, its members will no longer be walking out from January 3rd, as had previously been threatened.

So far, air crews have not taken part in the mass transportation strikes that have hit France since December 5th, although some ground crew and air traffic controllers joined the first few days of the strike.

Unions representing air crew and pilots had been conducting separate talks with the French government over the proposed reform to the French pension system.

It was reported that the scrapping of regimes that allowed air crew to retire earlier than 62 was a particular concern.

Just before Christmas, union leaders announced that unless significant progress was made, their members would be taking part in unlimited strike action running from January 3rd.

However the SNPL union, which has the biggest membership among pilots, has now called off the strike action. 

The unions representing cabin crew – the SNPNC-FO, Unsa, Unac-CGC – have also withdrawn their strike notice.

The concessions the government offered are reported to be around retirement age – with pilots still able to retire at 60 and a later introduction of the new scheme for cabin crew, so that anyone born before 1987 can continue to retire at the age of 55. 

These among several overtures the government has made to unions on the subject of the proposed reforms.

The thrust of the government's proposal is to replace France's current highly complicated pension system, with 42 different regimes for different professions, with one universal system that offers the same retirement and the same pension calculation formula to everyone.

This would do away with the 'special regimes' which offer early retirement and a generous pension pot and which are particularly common in the public sector.

Concessions have also been offered to ballet dancers, who were on strike, about the implementation of the new regime and transition period at the end of their careers.

The government has also delayed the implementation of the new scheme, so it now only affects people born after 1975.

The strikes are now the longest mass transportation strikes since in France since the 1980s, overtaking the three weeks of industrial action that hit the country in 1995, also over pension reform. In that case after three weeks of strikes the government withdrew its pension proposals.

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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.