March 2, 2024

New right to strike: France imposes restrictions on striking pilots

French air traffic control strikes regularly result in flight cancellations and delays across Europe. Now the government has responded and amended the pilots' right to strike.

Statistically speaking, strikes occur more often in Italy and Spain, and for a much longer period in the USA; But France is still considered a hotspot for labor strikes. The right to strike is of particular importance in France. Strikes were legalized in France in 1864, 20 years before unions were recognized.

Unlike Germany, where only unions can call a work stoppage and state employees are not allowed to strike at all, in France it is already considered an official strike if two employees stop their work to enforce demands against their employer. The country's air traffic controllers are particularly fond of the strikes – they always have a strong impact on European air traffic.

More than eleven million passengers were affected

According to the European aviation association, Airlines for Europe A4E, more than 4,000 flights were canceled in France last year due to several air traffic controller strikes. There were 24,000 delays. In total, more than eleven million air passengers were affected, including passengers to and from France, as well as all passengers traveling in French airspace.

The impact was particularly significant because the law previously stipulated that air traffic control unions must announce a strike five days in advance. The strikers themselves did not have to announce whether they would participate or not. This means that the French Civil Aviation Authority has not been able to provide reliable estimates of the number of air traffic controllers available for scheduled flights.

Employees must declare their participation in the strike

Things have changed since December 28, according to the news channel Radio frequency mentioned. The French government has reformed the right to strike for air traffic control employees. Employees whose absence is likely to have a direct impact on flight operations must individually announce their intention to strike no later than two days in advance at 12 noon. Magazine officialthe official gazette of the government in which new laws and regulations are announced.

French Transport Minister Clement Beaune welcomed the law as an important step forward for airlines and air travelers, while respecting the right to strike guaranteed by the French Constitution.

Divided reactions from unions

The change in law has been favorably accepted by the leading air traffic controllers union (SNCTA) as it curbs abuse by other unions, which has deteriorated the image of the profession. The third largest representative organization for air traffic controllers, USAC-CGT, rejects the reform as an attack on the right to strike, adding that it is “impractical and ineffective.”