Published On: Tue, Nov 29th, 2022

EasyJet passengers for France face Christmas strike misery | World | News

Holidaygoers heading to France for the festive season may face delays as workers at EasyJet’s French subsidiary threaten strikes. The National Union of Flight Attendants (SNPNC-FO) warned of a “very important risk” of a strike after negotiations over pay rises failed. EasyJet’s management stated yesterday that it was ready to continue talks to try and avoid needing to cancel flights.

A formal strike notice had yet to be formally filed. However, SNPNC-FO delegate William Bourdon continued to call for pay rises in line with inflation, stating that the company’s current offer amounts to “below 6 percent” for total remuneration.

He added that alongside skyrocketing inflation, employees are facing increased contributions for a new health insurance provider.

Mr Bourdon said: “At the same time, the company has chosen to change the provider for our health insurance. The increases in contributions that we will suffer in January as a result of these bad choices will not be compensated.”

Mandatory annual negotiations held last Thursday failed to satisfy the union’s demands, which come as Ryanair’s Belgium staff and Air France workers threaten similar industrial action over their treatment.

A “conflict resolution process” between management and unions on Monday – but Mr Bourdon was not optimistic about its outcome.

He commented: “It’s not going well.”

The SNPNC warned last week of “a very significant risk of work stoppages by flight crews during the Christmas period”, urging management to “reconsider its position”. EasyJet France’s general manager Bertrand Godinot told AFP on Monday the company is “always in a logic of dialogue.”

But he added that he was “very disappointed that the SNPNC is publicly threatening to take customers hostage for the festive season while discussions are still underway.”

Mr Godinot claimed that during Thursday’s negotiations, the French unions “were offered a very competitive offer that was higher than the average inflation over the last 12 months, and unfortunately this offer was rejected.”

The airline boss also accused the trade union’s demands of being “without doubt rather disconnected from the economic reality of the company.”

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The SNPNC-FO told EasyJet: “After more than two years of colossal efforts made by hostesses and stewards in France, during which our working conditions have deteriorated sharply due to serious strategic errors for which management alone is responsible, easyJet is offering salary increases this year not even covering inflation, and rejecting the main elements of our demands.”

But Mr Godinot argued the company’s position was the result of massive losses during the Covid pandemic. He said: “we have just experienced the biggest crisis in our history, we have lost money over the previous three years, we are still in a fragile situation.”

He added EasyJet France was “doing our utmost to avoid any strike that would affect our customers.”

Further holiday chaos is expected after two Air France unions issued a strike notice for the period between December 22 and January 2.

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The unions said the industrial actions comes as a protest against the renegotiation of the collective cabin crew workplace agreement, which relates to their working conditions, pay and progression, and which expired in October.

Air France bosses have said that “negotiations are still underway” and that “our objective is to reach a new agreement” – but both unions have said that they will reject any “unilateral measure” from the company management.

They said: “To find ourselves at the mercy of bosses who, at a single pen stroke, can change everything that affects us in our work for their own benefit is unacceptable.”

Ryanair’s Belgian airport workers are also threatening strike action over their treatment by the airline giant, stating: “The end of year festivities are approaching, and if nothing changes, there is a high probability that staff will express their anger in that period.”

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.

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