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French Threaten Cabin Crew Strike

Posted in Air France, Cabin Crew NewsNo comments

French pilot and cabin crew unions have called for stoppages to fight their government’s plans to lift retirement age to 65, beginning in 2010, aligning French legislation with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards.

Syndicat National des Pilotes de Ligne (SNPL), the French pilot association, is organizing a nationwide four-day strike from Nov. 14 to 17. Eight unions representing cabin staff have called for a five-day stoppage from Dec. 5 to 9.

The European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) is supporting the French strikes. The French government is rushing legislation like a “sorcerer’s apprentice,” claims the ETF, as flight crew retirement age is still under discussion within the European Commission and the European Aviation Safety Agency.

Allowing pilots to continue their career beyond the current 60-year limit will be detrimental to the recruitment of young pilots and to the promotion of current cockpit crew members as pilot-in-command, claims SNPL.

“Mechanically, in a system where the ‘elder’ does not make his post available, the consequence is one recruitment less,” said SNPL. Cabin crew unions voiced similar recriminations and also claimed that the French government’s plan was “a threat for security on board.”

The French unions resent that lawmakers attempted to push through the new age limit without negotiating with workers’ representatives, as a simple amendment to the draft law on the financing of the French social security system in 2009.

The member of the French parliament who proposed the incriminated amendment, Jacques Myard, argues that he wants France to adopt the ICAO standard of November 2006 that allows one pilot to be up to age 65 provided the co-pilot is under age 60. “Our objective is to let those who want to continue until the age of 65, in conformity with international practice,” said Myard in Parliament.

As for cabin crew, the French MP claims that his amendment would “repair an injustice” and prevent them from being bumped off aircraft at the age of 55, which is currently the limit in France. “At 55, they can no longer fly, but they have been trained to be onboard aircraft. hey are transferred to a ground job, but it only works for one out of a hundred,” argued Myard.

In the United States, the Fair Treatment for Experienced Pilots Act of December 2007 allows both pilots on a domestic flight to be up to age 65. For international flights, one pilot may be up to age 65 provided the other pilot is under age 60, consistent with ICAO standards.

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