Do French ATC Unions Strike Too Much?

On one of my past flights to France, I was impacted by a strike with the French Air traffic controllers. In my case, I was fairly minimally impacted, but it was enough to cause frustration, and had it been a later flight I might have missed my bus to my hotel. So when exactly does going on strike go to far?



While the reasons that strikes first came to pass are very well defined and were definitely something that was needed at that time, the French Air Traffic Controllers have taken things to a new level. As of March, the French ATC Unions had gone on strike a total of 42 times since 2009. Those number start to run into a range that is out of the realm of justifiable. Striking that often means that ATC employees walk away more than once every 2 months!

Strikes or industrial actions have started to be used for all manner of things outside of pay complaints. In March, ATC employees went on strike to speak out against the lack of employees coming into new ATC positions. This makes little sense as the world has begun to deal with a massive shortage of incoming ATC employees.  Going on strike doesn't seem like it does anything except financially impact airlines, passengers and all manner of things dependent on travel. Industrial actions in these cases don't really bring in new employees, it just causes problems and animosity. 

The deeper issue is that many people started retiring all at once. In the US this was a direct result of baby boomers entering retirement age. In France, the situation is likely similar. The solution needs to focus on encouraging people to enter this field of work, not anger travelers and airlines. These are the people that are needed for these positions, interrupting their travel plans isn't going to win any points with incoming recruits.

Maybe the overall problem is that industrial actions have become the way to deal with every problem. "Don't like this, then go on strike", and rarely is that a good solution. Strikes have a away of severely impacting more people than intended. As people, we need to take up grievances with those who cause them, but there is a world around us we need to consider. Strikes have their place in the world, but France is riding the line of the boy who cried wolf. Strike over every little thing and everyone stops taking it seriously.