France: transport strike holds as CFDT union withdraws

Saint Lazare Station
Saint Lazare Station

Although the CFDT union advised its members to vote at AGs to return to work from Friday, the strike appears to be at least holding at a similar level.

Submitted by jef costello on November 17, 2007

The CFDT leadership argued that as the strike was visibly weakening each day it was better to return to the negotiating table, the government demanding an end to strikes as a condition of negotiations. The number of official strikers on Friday fell to 23% on the metro and 32% on the SNCF. Another key factor appears to be the apparent loss of public support, in 1995 during a similar strike public support grew as the strike continued, according to recent surveys by Le Monde a week of action has seen public opposition rise from 60 to 70%. Reports from the ground indicate that the AGs are better atttended with those present more militant.

According to official sources the metro system will run one train in five with six lines closed entirely: 6, 7, 7b, 8, 10 and 12. However official predictions have frequently contradicted evidence on the ground. They further claim that 40% of buses and trams will operate. On the subruban RER lines there is a 20% service on line A, no service on line B and a train every half an hour on lines C and D which is roughly 10% of normal service.

On the railways 180 out of 700 TGV are expected to run (compared to 250 yesterday). The regional transilien network is still experiencing massive disruptionand expects to run a 40% service (50% yesterday) and the Corail service expects to run 40 out of 300 trains (60 yesterday).

The SNCf has denounced as 'vandalism' reports that pickets have blocked scabbed trains from leaving depots and stations and manually changed signals to stop trains, they have further accused strikers of breaking windows and ticket machines at Saint Lazare using fireworks to set off fire alarms systems and of jamming points using stones, notably at Lille, Metz and Sète stations. The unions have denied acts of sabotage and reports of assaults on scab drivers.

A massive demonstration has been called for today at Saint Lazare station by the unions, with other striking workers and students also attending.

Four of the five represented unions at GDF and EDF have agreed to attend negotiations with management today. The strike held on Friday but has seen falls in observance over the week. Management appear to be offering a salary increase in an exchange for a longer working career and an end to pensions being index-linked to salaries.