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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: A l’aéroport de Roissy, la mobilisation décolle

by Marion d’Allard

Charles de Gaulle Airport : Mobilization Takes Off

Nationwide day of Action in French airports

Translated Friday 22 October 2010, by Isabelle Métral and reviewed by Henry Crapo

On Wednesday, nearly 4000 persons, all categories in one, marched at the site of the airport Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle. An exceptional mobiization for this sector.

They had announced it, and they did it. Yesterday morning, for the first time since the beginning of the social conflict, determined not to give in an inch, three to four thousand strikers took part in a march on the site of Paris’ main airport. Mobilized against the planned pensions reform, the staff blockaded Terminal 2 for nearly two hours.

The Air France CGT branch and the local Paris Airports CGT branch had called on the different union branches on the site to join the movement. “We cannot occupy the runways any longer,” a CGT unionist explained, “or they will take our badges away and then we can’t work any more, so we blockade the roads…”

Filtering road blocks have accordingly been set up. In their suits and ties or overalls, workers of all categories, whether officials of the workplace council, stevedores, flying or ground staff, or employees of the airport’s sub-contractors for cleaning, catering, security, private aircraft etc., all marched side by side against the financial markets’ takeover bid against labour and in favour of a fair and just reform that takes into account the physical difficulty and stress of work; as an average luggage handler lifts two to three tons of luggage a day, this criterion is truly essential. “Here we call them the broken-backs,” explains Serge Nybelen, general secretary of the Roissy CGT branch. As a security inspector Sabrina starts working very early: “I get up at 4 am every day. And I’m sixty-five, so you can imagine…” She is delighted by the mobilization. “50% of all security workers joined the march today, and 100% would have but for the requisitioning!”

On Wednesday at Roissy all called for the development of local initiatives, general meetings and more days of stronger general mobilization. About fifty rail workers came to lend a hand in support of the movement, “especially to reinforce security, to make sure things do not get out of control.”, Gilles, a rail worker, explains.

The unions of the Bourget airport (to the North of Paris), the Paris underground workers, those of the Paris-Nord II industrial zone, the nearby city of Bobigny’s public workers, among others, came to fill out the protesters’ ranks. A nationwide day of action had been announced in French airports: the promise has been kept. At Orly airport (south of Paris), in the airports of Nice, Clermont-Ferrand, Nantes and Toulouse mobilization started no later than 5 am and another strike in airports is envisaged. Proof enough that the movement is far, very far indeed, from running out of steam.

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