French union officials claimed 3.5 million people took part in a strike on 12-Oct-2010 to protest plans to reform the country’s pension system (The New York Times/Reuters/Travel Trade Gazette, 12/13-Oct-2010). The turnout is an increase of 20% from the previous strike on 23-Sep-2010. Unions warned they may renew the strike every 24 hours unless the government backs down. Several labour groups voted on 12-Oct-2010 to extend their walkouts through 13-Oct-2010, and unions have called for another day of demonstrations on 16-Oct-2010. French aviation authority advised carriers to cut 50% of services to and from Paris Orly Airport and 30% to and from Roissy Charles de Gaulle Airport due to the strike. Lyon Airport cancelled 21% of services.
The bill on the changes to the retirement system was approved by the National Assembly in Sep-2010 and is being debated in the Senate (Bloomberg, 12-Oct-2010). The upper chamber of Parliament has approved the two main points of the legislation, raising the retirement age and full pension age. Prime Minister Francois Fillon stated at the National Assembly, the reform ”is the most sensible decision; even the International Monetary Fund said it ... Nobody will renegotiate the age increase".
Aer Lingus cancelled two flights between Dublin and Paris, and operated the rest of its services as normal. Sixteen flights between Ireland and France were cancelled with Ryanair cancelling eight flights between Dublin and Nice, Paris Beauvais, Madrid and Rodez. [more - Exeter Airport] [more- Cardiff Airport]
Fine Gael Transport Spokesman Simon Coveney stated he will lobby the European Commission to work towards achieving an EU-wide ban on strike action by air traffic controllers (Business World, 12-Oct-2010).
Fine Gael Transport: "This strike is a huge inconvenience to the travelling public, and is having a significant economic impact. The fact that a small number of very well paid air traffic controllers can shut down access to and from countries is ludicrous. So far this year air traffic controllers have gone on strike in Ireland, Spain, Belgium, and France ... I believe air traffic controllers provide an essential economic service and should not be allowed go on strike. Instead there should be credible alternatives to industrial action to resolve disputes in the workplace," Simon Coveney, Spokesman. Source: Business World, 12-Oct-2010.