FROM THE RADICAL PRESS – HUMANITE (FRANCE )
23 12 2011
Patrick Le Hyaric
Right-wing power violates the Constitution
Mr Sarkozy and the right wing government have once again taken sides – that of the bosses against the workers. The workers, responsible for security in the airports only earn Euros 1,300 a month net and their lives are cut to bits by very flexible hours. For eight days, after having exhausted in vain all efforts at being heard, they have used their right to strike to demand an increase in their wages by Euros 200 gross, and a bit of respect and dignity.
The government has the means to oblige the chiefs of these four private companies, responsible for the security of the departure of flights, to open serious negotiations and thus avoid conflict in this festive period. Instead it decided to support the bosses’ blocking strategy and to provide a politically motivated example of its intransigeance. So that the message is well understood by the target electorate, Mr Sarkozy and his government have deployed the forces of law and order.
The State can only exercise powers to requisition services in order to ensure an indispensible public service, yet this is a matter of private enterprise and air traffic is insured. This then is a serious violation of the French constitution that recognises the right to strike to all, so they can defend themselves.
Rather than expound on an alleged hostage-taking of passengers, repeated like a broken record by all the government’s ministers, some of our brethren would be better advised to ask themselves questions that would help them understand what is happening. What is the financial situation of the companies concerned? What dividends do their shareholders receive. What wages do their top executives get? Who is refusing to negotiate? Who decided that the security of the airports was no longer a public service but a public mission carried out by private companies? When a company boss violates the right to work and particularly the right to strike, he is condemned. What happens when the State is guilty?
Let’s remembers it was the Right that in 1996 – in order to comply with Maastricht criteria on the reduction of deficits – that privatised the security in the airports and delegated it to four companies – ICTS, Brinks, Alyzia and Securitas. The latter has given millions of its profits in dividends to its shareholders while so generously giving a Euros 8 rise to its employees. While the number of passengers in the airports has risen by almost 2 million a year, there was no increase in the number of security guards while at the same time they have had to work at unheard of speeds and with record flexibility. They are part of the France that has to rise early… of whom Sarkozy talked five years ago. Today he is again on the campaign trail.
On all these issues, Sarkozy divides our citizens, seeking in this case to pit workers responsible for airport security against those wishing to travel in safety. The UMP candidate wants to profit from this conflict to further reduce the rights of workers, notably their right to defend themselves, their right to strike against arbitrary [power] and injustice. The police unions disagree [with Sarkozy]. The pilots, who forsee the threats, do too. All sense that a threshold is about to be breached on one of the most precious acquired rights in a democracy.
With the Presidential election campaign in full swing, Sarkozy borrows a new paragraph from the extreme right. We musn’t let him do it! Solidarity with the airport security guards!
Translation by Revolting Europe
Backstory: France’s airport strikes
French airport unions plan new action over “anti-strike” bill
French flight and airport workers’ unions declared on Thursday they would stage a strike in February (6-9) to protest against a government bill which proposes new rules on strikes in the sector.
“All trades are united in this call: pilots, navigators, mechanics and ground staff,” said Yves Deshayes of SNPL, the main pilots’ union.
On 24 January the French parliament is to debate the bill put forward by Eric Diard from President Nicolas Sarkozy’s right-wing UMP party. If the bill is enacted, every worker in the sector intending to join a strike would have to give 48 hours notice.
“Tomorrow, it will no longer be possible to strike if this bill is passed,” said Fatiha Aggoune-Schneider, who heads the main SNPNC-FO stewards’ and hostesses’ union. “Everything we’re hearing in recent days… clearly shows that this law is aimed at restricting the right to strike,” said Deshayes.
French airport security workers are currently on the seventh-day of a strike over salaries and mediated talks between management and unions have broken down.
On Wednesday President Sarkozy said he would not allow holidaymakers to be “held hostage” by the strike and the interior ministry deployed police on Thursday at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, to work alongside non-striking workers checking passengers and bagage.