Air France workers threaten strike action over Christmas holidays

Flying to and from France could be more complicated this Christmas and New Year holiday period, as unions representing Air France employees have threatened to go on strike over the festive period..

Air France workers threaten strike action over Christmas holidays
Air France aircrafts docked at their stations at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris. (Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP)

Travel during the Christmas holiday period could be tricky this year in France, after unions representing Air France cabin crew announced they had filed a strike notice for the Christmas to New Years’ time period.

The UNAC and SNGAF unions, who represent flight personnel, have threatened industrial action in response to what they see as management’s failure to extend their Collective Agreement – which expired at the end of October – during negotiations earlier this fall.

The proposed strike would run from December 22 to January 2nd, which could wreak havoc on the holiday season – a period that is crucial for the airline industry who is still recovering from losses incurred during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a statement published Tuesday, unions said they were requesting the “negotiation of a temporary contractual solution to replace the Collective Agreement.”

The strike notice was intended to “serve as a warning to our management” and to threaten “strong mobilisation” if the warning is not heeded, according to the statement.

On the management side, Air France responded by saying they had “taken note of the strike notice.” Additionally, Air France management specified in their own statement that negotiations remained underway for the renewal of the Collective Agreement and that they would continue on past January 2023. 

The company added that steps had been taken to “ensure that all provisions governing the lives of cabin crew remain unchanged.”

Nevertheless, unions remained concerned that management could take unilateral measures, specifically regarding the composition of crews. 

According to reporting by Le Monde, the autumn negotiations centered heavily around plans to change the number of flight attendants per flight, with management preferring to use one cabin crew for every 51 passengers, rather than one for every 48, which is the current standard for long-haul flights. In contrast, unions fought to keep the existing standards. 

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Eurostar faces severe disruption at Christmas as staff vote to strike

High-speed train operator Eurostar will face security staff walkouts that will "severely" disrupt busy Christmas services, their trade union said on Wednesday.

Eurostar faces severe disruption at Christmas as staff vote to strike

Eurostar, which links London with Paris and Brussels, is the latest firm hit by strikes as salaries fail to keep pace with rocketing inflation in a cost-of-living crisis.

The RMT rail union said in a statement that members working as Eurostar security voted overwhelmingly to strike on December 16th, 18th, 22nd and 23rd.

“The strike action will severely affect Eurostar services and travel plans for people over the December period,” it added.

More than 100 staff had voted “emphatically” to reject a pay offer that was below inflation.

The RMT added that the security workers are employed by facilities contractor Mitie.

“Security staff are essential to the running of Eurostar and it is disgraceful they are not being paid a decent wage,” said RMT general secretary Mick Lynch.

“I urge Mitie and Eurostar to come to a negotiated settlement with RMT as soon as possible.”

Britain faces a grim winter of discontent this year as strikes multiply across public and private sectors as pay is eroded by surging consumer prices.

Ambulance workers on Wednesday joined nurses in voting to go on strike ahead of Christmas.

Numerous other staff, from lawyers to airport ground personnel, have also held strikes this year as Britain contends with its worst cost-of-living crisis in generations.

UK inflation accelerated in October to a 41-year peak at 11.1 percent on runaway energy and food bills.