France is of course no stranger to industrial relations. This BBC report reminds us that, although the French workforce is not particularly unionised, they are the European Champions in terms of days lost to strikes per 1,000 employees: Germany 4, UK 19, France 100. (Canada are the World Champtions, apparently).
This is a far from exhaustive list, but here are some recent examples of industrial relations problems in the mountains:
First, a video showing Courchevel's brief day as the only resort in France with no lifts, back in 2008.
In 2011, there was a brief strike in Les Arcs and La Plagne over working conditions and pay, which was part of a national dispute involving the CGT. It involved 60 grevistes at the Funiculaire, 100 at La Plagne, and 40 at the Vanoise Express. But the union actions weren't coordinated (the FO union did its own deal with the employers) and the lifts kept on turning. More here.
Earlier this year, there was a brief strike over pay in Valmorel which saw 110/180 of the resort workers on strike, and 75% of the pistes closed. More here (including video). And more on the skiing in Valmorel here.
|Valmorel, looking towards Mont Blanc|
Back in Les Arcs, there is an ongoing dispute between the ESF and some of its older instructors. The ESF employs 17,000 moniteurs in 250 resorts across France. In 2007 it adopted a policy of getting instructors aged over 60 to cut back their hours outside school holidays - the intention being to provide more opportunities for younger workers. This was adopted at Arc 1800 in 2009, and prompted five instructors aged 57-62 to take the ESF to court. The latest ruling by the court in Albertville was in their favour, declaring it to be a clear case of age discrimination.