Air France pilot unions call for strike during Euro 2016

Air France pilots say the strikes are planned to last for four days and might be extended if necessary.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

An Air France A320 aircraft is seen on the tarmac at the Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Roissy, near Paris, France, May 31, 2016.

Air France’s pilot unions have called on members to strike over proposed salary cuts, further escalating the multidimensional crisis in France, just days before the country is due to host the Euro 2016 football tournament.

The strikes are planned to take place on June 11, the second day of the tournament, until June 14, and might be extended if necessary, the unions said in a joint statement.

The football tournament hosted in Paris begins on June 10 and will run until July 10.        

Calling the latest move by pilots “irresponsible,” the French government urged for an end to the growing wave of mass strikes.

France has been experiencing nationwide strikes in protest against labour law reforms that unions claim will hurt workers, threaten labour rights and jeopardise job security. The government says the reforms aim to fight high unemployment rates.

The strikers have blocked refineries, which has led to fuel shortages, and disrupted train schedules, forcing the country to use its strategic oil reserves for the first time since 2010.

France’s powerful General Confederation of Labour (CGT) has called on its members to go on nationwide strikes from June 1 to June 14, which will coincide with the Euro 2016 tournament.

Meanwhile, an indefinite suspension of rail services has entered its third day, reducing the services by up to half.

According to Air France CEO Frederic Gagey, a strike would not paralyse travel to the tournament.

“People can drive or take the train,” he said.

He also said that KLM - the group's Dutch arm - would not be affected and travellers coming from the United States could use partner airline Delta.

An Air France spokesman said that the strike’s impact cannot currently be estimated.  A 15-day pilots’ strike in September 2014 caused 400 million euros in losses to the airline.

TRTWorld, Reuters