Air France CEO Commits Corporate Seppuku, Labor Unions Notch Victory in France

I undercover strikes at Air France. Air France workers strike. They’re French. And I have a belly button. Neither one is unusual, or impressive.

Alexandre de Juniac, the current head of the International Air Transport Association, left as CEO of Air France in 2016 amidst labor unrest.

Now his replacement Jean-Marc Janaillac will step down amidst strike actions and a majority of workers voting against a new pay proposal in a non-binding online poll.

About 55 percent of staff who voted in an online poll rejected the offer made after 13 days of labor action by pilots, cabin crew and ground staff since Feb. 22.

…While the outcome of the wage offer consultation isn’t legally binding, it will boost the negotiating position of unions at Air France. A majority of labor representatives have to approve any wage deal for it to take effect. Management offered a 7 percent increase over four years, while unions were pushing for a 5.1 percent rise this year.

Air France has been trying to combat low cost carriers with its new startup Joon staffed by lower workers. The airline wasn’t seeking lower wages from mainline work groups, but existing labor at Air France wants more, and faster, and the online poll signals that the airline’s current proposal was unlikely to garner sufficient support.

Meanwhile job actions are likely to continue. While it’s not clear yet what the shakeup will mean, a union official says planned strikes Monday and Tuesday will “probably” go forward.

For now the unions have a scalp. It’s unclear whether the company appoints someone more conciliatory and caves to wage demands, or whether they’ll dig in to maintain a line on costs.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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