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Tue, Feb 07, 2012

French Air Crews Launch Four-Day Strike

Move In Protest Of Labor Reforms

A bill to change the way French airline workers can call strikes which is working its way through the French Parliament has sparked a four-day strike on the part of airline pilots and flight attendants. The strike began Monday.

In the legislation, airline union workers would be required to give 48 hours notice before walking off the job. It is patterned after similar rules covering unionized French railway workers. Government leaders say that the notice gives airlines time to make and put in place contingency plans, according to reports in both the Associated Press and Reuters.

But Union officials say that the rules essentially make strikes meaningless. If the airline can operate normally while workers are out on strike, the effectiveness of the action is greatly reduced. UPI reports that union officials also are upset that the Transport Ministry reportedly rejected union-suggested amendments to the bill.

The measure has passed the lower house of the French Parliament, and is under consideration in the Senate. The labor action is expected to run through Thursday. Air France says it will be forced to reduce its domestic European flights by 20 percent, and its long-haul routes by 15 percent. Passengers who are affected by the strike will not be charged change fees to reschedule their travel.

Pilots' union vice president Philippe Vivier told Reuters that the current labor action is just the beginning, and that more are planned during February, though firm dates had not been decided.

FMI: www.assemblee-nationale.fr/english/index.asp, www.airfrance.us

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