Approved quietly by Parliament, this bill nevertheless reforms French air traffic control undermined by repeated strikes. The National Assembly on Wednesday approved a bill aimed at organizing air navigation services in the event of a social movement, despite opposition from the left. This final vote follows the adoption of the bill in the Senate last June. This text, “protective and balanced”, makes it possible to put an end to “an asymmetrical system” at the origin of a “disorganization of the public service”, supported the Minister of Transport Clément Beaune from the hemicycle.
The senatorial bill, brought to the Assembly by Renaissance deputy Damien Adam, was adopted with 85 votes against 30. The left opposed it, considering the text as "a threat to the right to strike", according to Green MP Lisa Belluco. Senator Vincent Capo-Canellas (Centrist Union) is at the initiative of this bill which makes it obligatory, for any airline agent carrying out functions “the absence of which is likely to directly affect the carrying out of flights”, to declare individually his participation in a strike movement two days previously.
Social movements linked to the pension reform in the first half of 2023 led the government to activate the accelerated procedure for examining the text, allowing a single reading in each chamber, and rapid final adoption. Precisely, the single article of the text requires strikers to give notice of their participation in a social movement “no later than noon the day before each strike day”. Currently, air traffic control unions must file any strike notice five days before a strike, but strikers do not have to declare their individual participation, unlike other employees in the sector.
In a press release published Tuesday, the national union of air traffic controllers (SNCTA), the majority union in the sector, expressed itself in favor of the text, warning of an “instrumentalization of the right to strike and its unreasonable use” in certain circumstances. The text aims to enable “an adapted minimum service”, that is to say the obligation imposed on public service employees, to ensure a minimum service in all circumstances and the implementation of “proportionate measures” to the real needs of the sector in the event of a strike, argued rapporteur Damien Adam.
The government, for its part, is committed to reviewing the terms of the minimum service system, which has applied to air traffic controllers since 1985. According to a study on air traffic control strikes in Europe between 2005 and 2016, France has recorded 249 days of strike, compared to 34 in Italy, 44 in Greece, and less than ten in the other member states, recalled Damien Adam.