New Air France labour proposals receive mixed reception from unions

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New collective labour agreements proposed by Air France have received a mixed reception from trade unions representing its staff.

The SkyTeam carrier received a significant boost after unions representing ground staff accepted new agreements proposed under Air France-KLM's Transform 2015 restructuring plan.

Analyst Yan Derocles of Oddo Securities says Air France chief executive Alexandre de Juniac's pledge that if the unions signed the agreements, no forced redundancies would be made during 2012 or 2013 was a key factor in their acceptance.

"If you look at the first part of the redundancy plan, the main part of redundancies are coming from this category," he says.

However the SNPL union, which represents 2,291 of Air France's pilots, equating to 6% of the company's workforce, will ballot its members over the changes. A decision is not expected until the end of July at the earliest.

Unions representing Air France's cabin crew are continuing to negotiate with Air France.

Derocles says the new agreements proposed to cabin crew and pilots contained new "productivity gain" measures which did not apply to Air France's ground staff.

Hoping to improve its economic efficiency by 20%, Air France is understood to be seeking changes to flight duty rosters. It wants them to resemble those of the pilots and crew operating flights from its regional bases, who work more hours over fewer days.

Overall Air France hopes to reduce its staff numbers by 5,122 - from a total of 49,301 - by December 2013. Around 1,700 of those will have departed by the end of next year, leaving around 2,056 ground staff, 904 cabin crew and 450 pilots facing redundancy.