US flight catering staff turn up heat on Air France over working conditions


Morena Henriquez packs airline meals for more than 10 hours a day in a refrigerated area. Chef Rafael León has to provide his own knives and sometimes squats on the floor to prepare the in-flight meals because he has no work surface. Both earn minimal wages. These are not workers in a developing country but staff at a Los Angeles-based associate of airline giant Air France-KLM. They flew to Paris recently to confront the airline's shareholders over their miserable working conditions. And now its management has finally agreed to intervene on their behalf with its American partner. Dan Israel reports on the fight against working conditions that one French trade union official has described as “modern-day slavery”.

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When Morena Henriquez came to Paris from Los Angeles in late May, she had to use up all her annual holiday – a total of five days. Rafael León, who came with her, had to take unpaid leave. But this was no holiday for these two workers at Flying Food, an airline caterer with which a subsidiary of Air France-KLM has a joint venture. They came to highlight their struggle against harsh working conditions in front of Air France-KLM shareholders and top management.