Air Algerie strike grinds on, stranding thousands in France

14th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

Thousands of angry travellers were still stranded Thursday in French airports and in Algiers as a strike by Air Algerie cabin crew -- who want a a 106-percent pay -- went into its fourth day.

The ailing state-run airline said it was planning to move some passengers on Thursday -- France's Bastille Day national holiday -- on chartered planes and on ferries from Marseille across the Mediterranean to Algiers.

But that would still leave the majority of passengers -- many have been waiting to fly since Monday -- still blocked in Paris, Nice, Marseille and Lyon as well as in the Algerian capital.

The strike has led to the cancellation of dozens of the Air Algerie's flights at a time when many French residents of north African origin make their annual trip to see relatives.

Hundreds again slept on camp beds overnight in Paris Orly and were given sandwichs and drinks by airport officials or Red Cross workers.

The union representing the cabin crew said Wednesday that talks with airline bosses to resolve the dispute had ground to a halt.

"There has been no contact between those striking and the management since the day before the industrial action was launched," said union president Yacine Hamamouche.

Hamamouche said a deal was close to being agreed before the strike but it collapsed at the last minute "and we still don't know the reason".

Algerian state radio on Tuesday quoted the airline's chief, Mohamed Salah Boultif, as saying that Air Algerie, given its poor financial health, was in no position to grant the 106-percent pay hike sought by the strikers.

Boultif however pledged to agree to a 20-percent pay rise for all airline employees.

Air Algerie employs about 9,000 staff and flies to more than 70 destinations.

In February it announced a $700 million dollar (495 million euro) investment to increase its number of carriers from 42.

© 2011 AFP

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