UPDATE: French air traffic controllers announce three more strike days

The French air traffic controllers' union has announced three extra strike days - in addition to the strike on Friday which has seen 1,000 flights cancelled.

UPDATE: French air traffic controllers announce three more strike days

The SNCTA union, the main union that represents air traffic controllers, has declared its intention to strike on Friday, September 16th in a dispute over pay and working conditions.

The Direction générale de l’aviation civile (DGAC) has asked airlines to cancel half of all their flights in and out of France on Friday, and is recommending that passengers postpone their travel plans, due to the likelihood of “severe” disruption.

In total 1,000 flights have been cancelled – click HERE for full details.

The strike notice runs from Friday, September 16th at 6am to Saturday, September 17th at 6am, although it is likely that flights over the weekend will also be disrupted as airlines deal with the knock-on effects.

The SNCTA has since announced three more strike days – on Wednesday, September 28th, Thursday, September 29th and Friday, September 30th.

The full scale of the disruption for those days is not yet known, cancellations will be announced nearer the time, so check our travel page HERE for updates.

The September 16th strike notice covers all airports in France, as well as French overseas territories such as the Caribbean islands of Martinique and Gaudeloupe.

READ ALSO Your rights on delayed or cancelled flights in France

The DGAC said it is in discussions with the Eurocontrol aviation traffic manager to propose alternative routes for airlines to avoid French airspace.

The SNCTA said for its part that the strike was a response to severe inflation that is eroding spending power of its members, and worries about “future recruitment.”

The move comes as the French government is preparing to unveil its 2023 budget, which the union says fails to guarantee the DGAC’s financing and could limit its its ability to offer pay hikes.

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Reader question: Why do French strikes always seem to be on Tuesdays and Thursdays?

If a one-day strike is called in France there is a high chance that it will be on either a Tuesday or a Thursday - here's why.

Reader question: Why do French strikes always seem to be on Tuesdays and Thursdays?

There are two types of strikes in France – unlimited or open-ended strikes that run for days or weeks at a time and single-day actions.

And if it’s a one-day strike, there is a high chance that it will be on either a Tuesday or a Thursday – as we have seen with the latest pension reform strikes which have been called for Thursday, January 19th and Tuesday, January 31st.

This is useful to know if you’re planning a trip and have some flexibility over your days of travel, but this doesn’t just happen by accident.

READ MORE: Calendar: The French pension strike dates to remember

Stéphane Sirot, a historian specialising in the sociology of strikes and trade unionism, explained to French newspaper Le Parisien that it’s all about maximising turnout.

Put simply, unions declare strikes on the days when the greatest number of people are working, in order to have the highest possible number of strikers in order to heap pressure on the employers and/or government. 

For this reason, weekends and public holidays are out because these days tend to have a reduced workforce. Workers who work on weekends, such as train drivers or waste collectors, often take Mondays or Fridays as rest days, so again there is a limited number of people who can strike.

There is another reason Mondays are out, said Sirot; “A sort of ‘battle plan meeting’ is generally held the day before a strike, in order to organise, for example, demonstration plans. However, the union leaders are not going to meet on a Sunday to refine the last points.”

READ MORE: Grève illimitée or générale: 12 bits of French strike vocab you need to know

And Fridays have a further problem: “If a renewable strike starts on a Friday and a day of action is put in place on the following Monday, people working in the public sector will have four days of pay taken away, because the administration considers that they are on strike for the whole period. In order not to deplete the finances of strikers, unions are careful not to organise mobilisations on a Friday.”

And Wednesdays? This is more of a historic reason relating to French schools giving children Wednesday afternoons off – which means that many parents also take the whole of Wednesday or the afternoon off. These days the Wednesday half-day is less common, but it still happens so unions usually avoid Wednesdays as well – leaving Tuesdays and Thursdays the optimum strike days.

You may also have noticed that demos are divided into two kinds – union-organised marches which take place during the week and those organised by political parties which happen at the weekend, usually on Saturdays.

“Union-organised demos usually go together with strikes – which is to say the stopping of the working time. In their eyes, demonstrating on weekends is not unionism,” added Sirot.

Of course, if the one-day strikes turn into une grève illimité (unlimited strike) or une grève reconductible (renewable strikes) they will encompass the whole week.

If you want to keep up with ongoing strike action in France, head to our strike section found HERE.