Airport strikes hit Paris and spread across Europe

A one-day strike yesterday by ground crew and firemen at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris forced the cancellation of one-quarter of flights through the airport, one of Europe’s largest. Workers were demanding a €300 monthly raise amid spiraling increases in the cost of living in France and internationally.

They also demanded more staff, as layoffs during the pandemic have left airports unable to deal with the current surge in air travel. The Workers Force (FO) union estimated that 15,000 airport workers lost their jobs in the last two years, leaving the remaining “workers under pressure.” The Airports of Paris (ADP) authority is currently looking to fill 4,000 positions.

Sylvia, a security screener at Charles de Gaulle Airport, told reporters: “All of us struggle to make it to the end of the month; all of us have debts we need to make payments on.” She noted that security staff make “only a few euros above the minimum wage.”

Strikes also took place at smaller regional airports in France. Stalinist General Confederation of Labor (CGT) union officials at Carcassonne Airport explained its one-day strike on June 8, count L’Independant: “We want our tasks to correspond really to what we were hired to do. Each time staff levels fall, management gives workers tasks not in their contracts. … Management is making no concessions. The director said he will announce something on June 17.”

Airport strikes in France are part of an escalating wave of struggles across Europe and internationally by airport and airline workers, a powerful section of the working class that can rapidly shut down broad sections of the world economy.

The day before the strike in France, airline and air traffic controllers in Italy walked out at airports across the country. Some 68 flights in Milan Malpensa, 40 in Milan Bergamo, and 15 each in Linate and Turin were canceled as air traffic controllers and workers at Alitalia, RyanAir, EasyJet, Volotea and other airlines went on strike over pay and working conditions. Controllers strikes downed operations at Milan, Turin, Verona, Genoa, Cuneo, Bologna and Parma airports.

Italian union officials told the Corriere della Sera that the airline workers strike was against “violation of minimum wage rules set by the national contract, continuing depressed wage levels, arbitrary reductions in pay, non-payment of sick days, the corporation’s refusal to give mandatory vacation days during the summer season, and the lack of water and meals for staff.”

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