Air France has set itself on a collision course with a broad collation of unions at the airline who are protesting a proposed pay rise of just 1 percent. Employees at the carrier have already staged one 24-hour stoppage on 22nd February and are demanding a rise of 6 percent across employee groups including ground staff and cabin crew.
At a meeting between the airline and representatives from several unions yesterday, management rejected their demands but said it was willing to “negotiate a pay adjustment mechanism” to make up for a shortfall between purchasing power and rising inflation.
The meeting was called after the coalition of unions called a second 24-hour stoppage which is due to go ahead on 23rd March. They claim wages for normal employees have stalled for over 6-years while senior executives have received generous bonuses and pay rises.
In a statement, Air France said it would be “impossible” to meet the demands of the unions given the current economic situation facing the airline.
“After listening to their demands for a 6% general pay increase, management reminded them that the company’s economic and financial situation, in a particularly aggressive competitive environment, made this general pay increase impossible,” the statement read.
Management said that giving in to the demands of workers would jeopardise growth, future recruitment and investment. Asking the unions to lift the threat of a second strike, Air France said it would be willing to begin talks “as quickly as possible”.
The unions, however, have been left less than impressed with the airline’s position. We’ve now learned that the 10 unions involved in the action, including UNAC and SNPNC who represent some of Air France’s cabin crew, are proposing to double the 23rd March strike from 24 to 48 hours.
Representatives will meet on Thursday to discuss the proposal.
According to reports, Karim Taibi from the FO union has called the airline’s new offer “indecent”. Another union leader has described the pay adjustment plan for individual employees as a “divide and rule” scheme.
Air France says its proposal will mean no employee will have seen their purchasing power decreased from where it was in 2011. The airline claims the pay plan would maintain “an economic balance” while preserving the lifestyles of its workers.
The last strike resulted in Air France cancelling nearly 50% of its long-haul flight schedule and left thousands of passengers stranded. Further information from the airline on how it plans to handle the threatened 23rd March strike is yet to be released.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.