Flight attendants at Air France have called a strike on January 19 in response to a controversial pension reform package unveiled by President Emmanuel Macron earlier this week.
Under the plans, Macron hopes to raise the legal retirement age from 62 to 64 years old. The reform package would come into effect in 2030 and is a major policy promise that Macron has been working on since coming to power in 2017.
Macron’s government quickly shelved the policy three years ago after powerful unions opposed the reforms, but Paris is once again tabling the reform package in a bid to avoid the risk of a major financial deficit building up in the near future.
Despite efforts by French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne to emphasise the gradual nature of the reforms, unions have once again reacted angrily to the proposals and have called a national day of coordinated strikes on January 19.
The main union that represents the majority of cabin crew at Air France has confirmed that it will be participating in the wave of strike action, describing the reforms as an “attack” on cabin crew.
In France, cabin crew are allowed to retire at 55 years old in recognition of the ‘hardship’ that the job entails, including shift work, jetlag, exposure to ultraviolet radiation and musculoskeletal disorders.
Under the tabled reform package, cabin crew would still be able to retire at 55 years old, but they could experience a deficit in their pension package for the first nine years.
France is set for an effective shutdown on January 19, with workers from a swathe of industries set to down tools in protest at the reform package. Borne has warned that taxes will have to rise unless the retirement age is raised.
Air France cabin crew also threatened strike action in 2019 after the original pension reform package was unveiled and has called on the airline to intercede on their behalf at government level.
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.