French air traffic controllers cancel Friday strike and declare ‘Olympic truce’

France's main union of air traffic controllers has agreed not to call strike action until both the Olympic and Paralympic Games hosted by Paris are finished in September 2024 - including calling off a strike planned for Friday.

French air traffic controllers cancel Friday strike and declare 'Olympic truce'

The so-called “Olympics Truce” by the SNCTA union had been announced earlier by Transport Minister Clement Beaune after conciliation meetings that also saw the lifting of a strike notice for Friday, September 15th.

The agreement provides for “an increase in compensation”, “a commitment to an Olympics truce until September 2024” and the principle of new salary discussions at this deadline, one of the national secretaries of the SNCTA told AFP, asking not to be identified by name.

Beaune earlier hailed “the commitment made by unions to avoid any social movements during the current and upcoming major sporting events of the Olympic and Paralympic Games”.

The lifting of the September 15th strike action would also allow the ongoing Rugby World Cup to “proceed smoothly”, Beaune said.

Strike action by French air traffic controllers could play havoc with the travel plans of the participants and thousands of foreign visitors expected to converge on Paris for the Games.

The agreement with the SNCTA does not mean that other air traffic controllers unions cannot call strikes before or during the Olympics – but the SNCTA is the largest union and therefore has the potential to cause the most disruption.

Earlier calls by regional politicians for a ban on strikes during the Olympics were rejected as unconstitutional. 

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Islamic sports body says France hijab ban is ‘against Olympic spirit’

A group of sports federations from Muslim-majority countries said on Monday that France's move to bar its Olympic athletes from wearing the hijab would "send a message of exclusion".

Islamic sports body says France hijab ban is 'against Olympic spirit'

The 57-member Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation (ISSF), based in the Saudi capital Riyadh, voiced “profound concern” over the French decision, which was taken in line with the country’s strict rules on secularism.

French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera said last month the French government was opposed to any display of religious symbols during sporting events.

“What does that mean? That means a ban on any type of proselytising. That means absolute neutrality in public services,” she told France 3 television.

“The France team will not wear the headscarf.”

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Does France really have a hijab ban?

The ISSF said in its statement on Monday that the hijab was “an aspect of many Muslim women’s identity and should be respected”, adding that the French ban could prevent some French Muslim athletes from competing.

“The Olympics have historically celebrated diversity, unity and athletic excellence,” the statement said.

“By implementing a hijab ban for their athletes, a host would send a message of exclusion, intolerance and discrimination that goes against the Olympic spirit.”

The statement urged French authorities “to reconsider this ban” and called for “meaningful engagement with the Muslim sports community in France.”

The ISSF was founded in 1985 to serve members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, based in the Saudi city of Jeddah, “in all aspects of sports activities”, according to its website.

It has organised five editions of the Islamic Solidarity Games, most recently last year in Turkey.

The UN human rights office has not addressed France’s hijab ban for its athletes directly, but a spokeswoman said last week that “no-one should impose on a woman what she needs to wear or not wear.”