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The London to Paris air route is under severe economic pressure because of the number of carriers offering competing services and the inroads on the volume of air passengers made by the rail alternative, Eurostar. In order to save costs, from next April British Airways, which sees Paris as a vital part of its network, will be outsourcing its ground operations at Charles-de-Gaulle airport to a French company, Serviceair Globeground.
This provoked a furious reaction from the French union CGT, to whom most of BA’s French employees belong. CGT took legal proceedings and alleged, although without producing much hard evidence, that Serviceair had an unsatisfactory safety record. They also complained that while awaiting judgment, BA, anticipating perhaps their 187 staff at Charles de Gaulle might be tempted to take industrial action, brought in 150 temporary staff, some from Germany. Rather unusually in the context of French industrial relations, the court unreservedly found in BA’s favour, and even awarded costs against CGT.
BA says that Serviceair will be obliged to adhere to all BA’s most stringent requirements in terms of efficiency, safety and security and has promised its employees will be transferred with all their contractual rights and pensions protected. As 44% of BA’s value is absorbed by the company’s newly-announced £2.1 billion pension deficit, many of its staff could find that Serviceair proves to be a much better bet.
From our October 2006 newsletter