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French airline pilots' strike may be called off

Grounded? An Air France plane
Grounded? An Air France plane

The French government seems hopeful that an airline pilots’ strike due to start on Saturday will be called off. The union that called the action, SNPL France Alpa, said it would decide whether to go ahead by Friday midday.


The strike, which would principally affect Air France, is due to start on 3 May and last a month if no agreement is reached but Transport Minister Frédéric Cuvillier said on Wednesday that there had been “significant advances” in talks with the SNPL.

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The union’s president, Yves Deshayes, also struck a positive note.

He was awaiting a letter with proposals that “in principle may be likely to satisfy us”, he said, and the union has started consulting its national executive on whether to maintain the strike call.

Cuvillier said he had invited airline bosses to meet him to discuss the pilots’ “central” demand, the scrapping of a law passed under previous president Nicolas Sarkozy that forces transport workers to individually register their intention of joining a strike 48 hours before it starts.

The SNPL claims that airlines use the warning to find foreign pilots to replace strikers and argues that is an interference with the right to strike.

Cuvillier says he will ask the companies to give “commitments of good conduct so that the law is not abused”.

There has also been progress on the SNPL’s other demands, according to the minister.

Describing the call for a collective agreement covering pilots as “legitimate’, he has promised to work with the labour ministry to ensure that it be “swiftly resolved”.

A demand that security controls for air crews be eased is being sorted out with the introduction of professional or biometric cards, he said, and he promised to set up a working group to look into reducing taxes on French airlines.

Another union, the CGT, on Wednesday declared its support for the strike.

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