This Friday’s French air traffic controller strike is called off

It means visitors travelling in for Rugby World Cup matches will not be affected. The union has also said it would not strike during the 2024 Paris Olympics

Fans flying into France for this weekend’s Rugby World Cup matches will breathe a sigh of relief at the news
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France’s largest air traffic controller union has lifted its strike notice for this Friday (September 15).

The strike was called for last month over a dispute regarding pay and inflation and was set to impact flights to and from all of France’s major airports and journeys over French airspace.

However, an agreement between the syndicat national des contrôleurs du trafic aérien (SNCTA) union and France’s civil authority (Direction générale de l'Aviation civile or DGAC) has now been reached and the strike notice was lifted this morning (September 12).

The agreement includes an “increase in compensation” for union members, alongside plans to discuss new salary benchmarks in 2024, said a secretary of the SNCTA.

It also mentions an ‘Olympic truce’ from the union with a pledge not to disrupt the games and to rule out strike action from around the games until September 2024.

ATCs are, however, expected to join the proposed general strike that unions are planning for next month on October 13.

Good news for rugby fans

The union called for the strike at the end of last month, citing “the silence of [the DGAC] in the face of inflation” and both ATCs and airport ground workers were set to join it.

It would have potentially jeopardised the travel plans of thousands of fans visiting France for the Rugby World Cup.

Transport Minister Clément Beaune said the announcement will allow the tournament to “proceed serenely.”

Read more: See all dates and cities in France for Rugby World Cup 2023

Some transport workers on strike – but low turnout

In Paris, the FO-RATP – the second-largest union for transport workers in Paris after the CGT – announced strike action covering the entirety of the Rugby World Cup, citing a dispute over station worker bonuses during the tournament.

Bosses of the RATP (Paris’ public transport network controller) have said however that the strike will not cause disruption for fans travelling to the Stade de France to watch matches.

“The RATP is ready. I want to reassure everyone,” said RATP President and former French Prime Minister Jean Castex.

He said the strike had a “less than 10% participation rate” from workers of the transport system.

“In particular, around the Stade de France, stations on RER line B, [Metro lines] 12 and 13 are fully mobilised. More than 300 agents will be on hand to guide spectators (...) We are very confident that this event will be a complete success,” he added.

No news of major disruption from the strike action was reported during the opening match of the tournament between France and New Zealand last Friday.

Similarly, some SNCF workers in the Paca (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur) region took strike action last weekend but disruption for rugby fans was minimal.

Read more: See all dates and cities in France for Rugby World Cup 2023

An Olympic truce for Paris 2024

The announcement between the union and the DGAC included the promise from workers to refrain from strike action whilst Paris hosts the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The truce only applies during the Olympics themselves (and some days prior) however, and does not constitute a blanket ban on strike action for the next 12 months.

ATCs could join the planned general strike on October 13 – the Usac-CGT, the third-largest union of ATC workers, has already confirmed it will be participating.

A number of unions have called for both public and private sector workers to join a Europe-wide ‘general strike’ on this day.

The CGT, France’s second-largest and one of its most radical, said further information would be given on action that day later in September.

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