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Economy

ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Air France. Un plan B refusé par tous les personnels

by Kareen Janselme

Air France: All of the Personnel Reject Plan B

Translated Monday 12 October 2015, by Gene Zbikowski

Confronted with the airline’s announcement that it will axe 2,900 jobs while accusing the pilots of not wanting to negotiate, all of the airline’s employees demonstrated, united and in solidarity.

“This is the beginning of the end.” For Véronique Amon, the general secretary of the SNPL, the biggest pilots’ union at Air France, the road down which management is heading is organizing “the slow death” of the airline. “Air France-KLM was the world’s biggest airline in the 2000s, " she said, "and in proposing to lower salaries and working conditions every three years, we’re going to be relegated to the second division.” Yesterday, before a meeting of the corporation’s elected members of the central works committee, the airline’s managers indeed announced a downsizing plan that will axe 2,900 jobs: 300 pilots, 900 stewardesses and stewards, and 1,700 ground personnel. The outline of this plan had previously been unveiled on October 2 to the board of directors, with Air France putting responsibility for its adoption on the pilots. The French prime minister and minister of the economy put in their two cents’ worth, since the French State has a 17.6% stake in Air France. According to them, the pilots refused to negotiate the “Perform 2020” plan, thus forcing management to resign itself to adopting a “Plan B” to reduce business activity.

“In 2012, management adopted ’Perform 2015’, " an SNPL trade unionist, an elected member of the works council, made a point of saying. The SNPL does not appreciate Air France’s guilt-tripping public relations exercise. “The pilots went along with it, increasing their productivity in exchange for the maintenance of business activity and growth. Management did not respect all the measures and had the SNPL subpoenaed in the courts. That doesn’t make things easier for serene negotiations on the new “Perform 2020” plan! This plan provides for adding 100 flight hours a year for pilots, which corresponds to nearly two additional months of work, for the same salary.” The SNPL notes that management changed the deadline for the negotiations, initially set for the end of the year, by moving it forward to September 30. A stratagem to propose a Plan B that had long since been drafted?

Management’s long-term desire to close five lines by summer 2016.

Against all expectation, ground personnel and cabin crews remained in solidarity with the pilots. Yesterday, the CGT, FO, UNSA and Solidaires issued a strike call, as did the CFDT in southern France. All sectors and all services were called upon to mobilize themselves to reject management’s proposals. The job-cutting announced by Air France is said to correspond to the shutting down of five lines and the retirement of five long-distance airplanes in the summer of 2016, followed by another nine in 2017. That is to say, the saving of 200 million euros according to Air France-KLM. “This adjustment will mainly be realized by the accelerated exit of Airbus A340s which will not be replaced by Boeing 787s, as initially foreseen,” the airline said in a press statement issued at the end of the central works committee meeting. Scheduled to resume in the afternoon, the meeting of the works council did not resume after the director of human resources was assaulted by angry employees, with the director losing his shirt.

In the afternoon, 2,500 employees demonstrated from corporate headquarters to the terminals, before turning around in the face of tear gas. Ground personnel and stewardesses and stewards were present together with the pilots.

No salary increase in the past four years.

“They’re asking us to do an additional ten hours a month without an increase in pay,” said Emmanuel Tillon, a CGT union representative of stewardesses and stewards. On 22 lines, they want to reduce our layover rest period from 48 hours to 24 hours, as on the Paris-Los Angeles flight or the Paris-Bangkok flight. This isn’t good physiologically. Management also wants to halve our consecutive days of rest. Now, we’re already doing the maximum, with a world record of 90% occupation of the cabins, while the cabin crew on board is being reduced.” And the trade unions are already worrying about the wage agreements being respected, which are to be renegotiated in October, 2016. Nor will the ground personnel be spared. Already many jobs have been axed thanks to continuing automation concerning the reservation of tickets and the registering of baggage.

No across-the-board increase in salaries over the past four years, reductions in staff levels, reduction in the wage schedule for seniority, uncompensated working on holidays, a reduction in holiday and RTT time… The employees feel themselves to be under greater pressure and this new “Plan B” appears to be a new provocation through manipulation of divisions among the personnel. And yet, at the end of the day, a meeting of the inter-trade union committee was held on the premises of the SNPL to hammer out a joint press statement.


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