RYANAIR HAS CANCELLED 110 flights due to a French air traffic controllers strike being held as part of protests by the country’s biggest trade union.
Some 4,000 strikes and protests have been called under the action led by the CGT, with rail workers, students and civil servants urged to protest in cities from Paris to Marseille and Toulouse.
The strikes are taking place as a result of French president Emmanuel Macron’s plans to reform labour laws.
Under his reforms, bosses would be given more freedom to negotiate working conditions directly with their employees rather than being subject to industry-wide agreements.
The business-friendly Macron sparked a backlash last week by describing opponents of his reforms as “slackers” and cynics, in comments blasted as “scandalous” by CGT chief Philippe Martinez.
In Paris, the transport disruption is set to be limited to two commuter train lines, but the situation is far worse for those planning on flying in or out or some French airports.
Ryanair has today called on Macron and the European Commission to take immediate action to prevent the continuation of the air traffic controllers strike.
“Enough is enough. If the French government is serious about changing France, they should start by tackling these air traffic control unions, and together with the European Commission, should take immediate action to prevent thousands of European consumers from having their travel plans disrupted by a tiny group of ATC unions going on strike once again,” Ryanair’s Kenny Jacobs said.
The airline advised passengers to check their status of their flights before travelling.
Meanwhile, the 39-year-old centrist president, who swept to power in May on promises to reinvigorate the economy and transcend left-right politics, used executive orders to fast-track his labour reforms.
They must be ratified by parliament in the coming months but are expected to breeze through given the large majority won in June by Macron’s party.
CGT leader Martinez says the reforms “give full power to employers”, while Eric Beynel of the Solidaires union, which backs the protests, vowed that workers would keep up the pressure “until the orders are withdrawn”.
Other unions have signalled a willingness to compromise. Macron is hoping to avoid a re-run of labour protests that rocked France for months last year under his Socialist predecessor Francois Hollande, which repeatedly descended into violence.
The president – whose personal ratings have slumped sharply since he came into office – will not be in France for today’s protests, as he is due in the Caribbean to visit French islands hit by Hurricane Irma last week.
Macron is determined to bring down France’s unemployment rate – at 9.5%, roughly twice that of Britain or Germany – and sees simplifying the unwieldy labour code as the key to achieving this.
Compensation for unfair dismissal would also be capped – a move that has particularly angered unions, along with steps to make it easier for foreign-based companies to lay off staff in struggling French operations.
Written by Hayley Halpin with reporting by AFP.