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Airport strikes hit Paris and spread across Europe

On Thursday, the ground staff and the fire brigade at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, one of the largest airports in Europe, went on strike. A quarter of all flights from there have been cancelled. The strikers were demanding a wage increase of 300 euros a month in light of the rising cost of living in France and around the world.

They also called for additional staff as airports are overwhelmed by the current surge in air traffic due to layoffs during the pandemic. According to estimates by the Force Ouvrière (FO) unions, 15,000 jobs have been cut at airports over the past two years, increasing the pressure on the remaining workers. The Paris airport authority is currently looking for applicants for 4,000 positions.

Sylvia, an airport security worker, told the press: “We are all struggling to make ends meet until the end of the month. We all have debts that we have to pay off.” She pointed out that wages for security guards are “just a few bucks above minimum wage.”

There were also strikes at smaller regional airports across France. At Carcassonne airport, an official from the Stalinist Confédération générale du travail (CGT) trade union made a statement to the public about the day-long strike on June 8 The Independent: “We want our job to match what we were originally hired to do. Whenever there is insufficient staff, management makes the workers do things that are not in their contracts. … The management makes no concessions. The director has said he will make an announcement on June 17.”

The airport strikes in France are part of an escalating wave of struggles by airport and airline workers across Europe and the world. They are a powerful section of the working class that can paralyze large parts of the world economy in a very short time.

A day before the strike in France, airline workers and air traffic controllers nationwide walked out in Italy. 68 flights were canceled at Milan Malpensa Airport, 40 at Milan Bergamo Airport and another 15 in Linate and Turin. Alitalia, RyanAir, EasyJet, Volotea and other airline workers and air traffic controllers went on strike for higher wages and better working conditions. In Milan, Turin, Verona, Genoa, Cuneo, Bologna and Parma, the airports were paralyzed by the air traffic controllers’ strike.

Italian union officials explained that Corriere della Serathe strike is directed against “violations of the minimum wage rule set out in the national collective agreement, persistently low wage levels, arbitrary wage cuts, non-payment of sick days, the company’s refusal to provide compulsory vacation days during the summer season and shortages of food and water for the staff.”

Yesterday, a strike by employees of the airline EasyJet caused a stir at Berlin-Brandenburg Airport. Around 450 cabin workers went on strike here from 5:00 a.m. on Friday morning. Although the verdi union deliberately limited the strike to just five hours, the airline said around 20 flights had to be cancelled

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