13 December 2013 – French rail unions, including the ITF-affiliated Fédération CGT des Cheminots (CGT) went on national strike yesterday, 12 December, in response to government reforms at SNCF, which it says do not meet the promises made last year by the minister of transport. Unions say that the SNCF is already trying to implement railway reforms before a parliamentary debate, scheduled for the beginning of 2014.
CGT secretary general Gilbert Garrel has outlined a number of promises made by the minister for transport in October 2012. These included commitments to prevent the fragmentation of the network, to ensure that railways are financially viable, and to improve freight services. Government actions have fallen far from these promises – the number of rail operators has shot up from 9 to 29 in recent years, and increased productivity requirements on the network cost an estimated 1.5-2 billion euros a year.
CGT leafleted train users at stations across the nation, asking them to use their voices to speak out about the impact of creeping deregulation on passenger services degrading the quality of services. UNSA and SUD-rail union members also joined the leafleting and strike action.
ITF inland transport secretary Mac Urata supported the action by the CGT: “We have seen the spectre of privatisation looming large over railways all across Europe. French rail unions have today mobilised against further liberalisation and fragmentation in the sector, raising awareness of the consequences of the European Commission’s Fourth Railway Package for passengers and workers alike. This high-profile strike should spark a public debate on railways in France, and force the government to live up to its promises.”
Get more information about the strike at http://www.cheminotcgt.fr/ (French)