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French strikes: Air traffic controllers, shop assistants to join the inaction

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-06-21

As France enters peak tourist season, unions representing air traffic controllers and Paris department store workers on Friday threatened to stage industrial action. The moves come amid existing arts-workers’ strikes and disruption from rail strikes.

France’s two biggest air controllers' unions, SNCTA and Unsa-ICNA, said they would strike for six days from Monday and warned of "a heavy disruption" of flights.

The striking air traffic controllers are protesting against the government’s planned aviation sector cuts between 2015 and 2019, which they say will threaten the "necessary performance and modernisation needed to ensure an efficient air navigation service in France".

The proposed cuts are to comply with a European Commission plan to reduce air navigation costs by dividing European airspace into functional blocks according to traffic flows rather than national borders.

Their planned strike follows a 10-day rail protest that has massively disrupted both domestic and foreign travel services. But most railway workers went back to work after lawmakers earlier this week approved the outline of reforms to prepare France’s railway system for EU liberalisation of Europe’s transport routes.

Separately, unions for workers at key department stores in Paris announced strikes on June 24 over plans to force tourist shopping temples such as Galeries Lafayette and Printemps to stay open on Sundays.

Also on Friday, unions for already striking arts workers extended the industrial action to the end of July, threatening a famed theatre festival in Avignon that draws tens of thousands of spectators.

Under French law, 250,000 workers in the film, theatre, television and festival industry are compensated for periods when they do not work, to soften the impact of their job insecurity.

But many are unhappy with a deal reached between some unions, employers and the government in March to try to save money on this welfare regime. The agreement would increase their payroll taxes, among other changes.

They had initially issued a strike notice until June 30, which has led to the cancellation of the Latin American Rio Loco festival in the southwestern city of Toulouse and has hit events in Paris and elsewhere.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2014-06-20

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