The right to strike is non-negotiable

Press Note. Brussels, 23 March 2016

The European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), representing around 270,000
workers in European aviation, took note of the strong wording used by European
airlines’ representatives to condemn the actions of French trade unions organising
air traffic management (ATM) staff. The ETF would like to reiterate that the right to
strike is a fundamental right and therefore non-negotiable. Furthermore, the ETF
warns against any attempt to impose minimum level of services in the European
ATM sector.

The French unions UNSA and CFDT have resorted to a call for strike actions due to the
insufficient staffing and investments. Despite a presumed growth of air traffic in France,
the General Directorate for Civil Aviation decided to lower the replacement level for
natural attrition from 80 to 65 per cent. Furthermore, in direct contradiction with the EU
plans to modernise the sector and increase its efficiency, the investment gap in the
French ATM system is growing.

Eduardo Chagas, ETF General Secretary, commented: “Instead of condemning trade
unions for defending their membership by executing legal actions, European airlines
should insist on French authorities to invest adequate financial means into their ATM
system and staff. The right to strike is anchored in the Article 28 of the Charter of
Fundamental Rights of the EU and the ETF will resist any attempt to restrict it.”

In its response to the Aviation Strategy for Europe published by the European
Commission in December 2015, the ETF rejected the proposed introduction of minimum
service requirements. Instead, the ETF suggests to develop the human factor pillar and
enhance social dialogue. Together with the ATM Social Partners, the ETF also published
a Toolbox for successful social dialogue which aims at increasing the quality of social
dialogue and reducing the risk of conflicts. In line with its main spirit, partnership and
cooperation between the parties are key features of a successful social dialogue. The
toolbox is available online at

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