France: Transport strikes are still going strong

The strikes, which seemed to be tailing off, appear to be affecting more services as workers renew strike action ahead of negotiations on Wednesday.

Submitted by jef costello on November 19, 2007

The six unions involved in the strike (CGT, FO, CFTC, Unsa, CFE-CGC and SUD after the CFDT withdrawal on Friday) called on workers' assemblies to vote to continue strike action.

The Paris transport authorities predict a fall in bus services to 30%, a 25% service on Tramline 1 full service on 2 and 50% on 3. Buses to Orly airport are running a 2/3 and the Roissy bus service appears to be closed. On the metro lines 1, 2, 3, 4, 7b and 11 are expected to run a train every 10 minutes; 3b, 7, 9 and 13 every 15 minutes (with one branch of line 13 closed); 5 and 6 every 20-25 minutes and 8 and 12 every 40 minutes. The automated line 14 continues to run a full service.

The SNCF claims to be able to offer 300 out of 650 TGV services (last week the total number of services was isted as 700); 76 out of 300 Corail services; 1 in 2 TER services (although replacement bus services are being included in this figure); the supposedly strike-proof Thalys service is running three quarters of its usual service and for the suburban rail services a skeleton service is available during rush hour. The international routes to Frankfurt and to Switzerland will both only run a third of normal services, it is unclear whether this is a new development or simply was not previously reported by the SNCF.

The SNCF has also announce that it will not be giving refunds to passengers whose trains are delayed by strike action. Normally if a train is over 30 minutes late the passenger can claim a refund of a third of the value of the ticket. The company is losing between €20M and €50M per day of strike action.

The militant SUD union, the second largest in the SNCF, has accused the government of bad faith in trying to exclude it as a negotiating partner. They have also rejected CGT proposals to negotiate pension reforms in each business seperately, arguing that the reforms are a collective attack on conditions and must be responded to collectively.

A spokesman has also stated that raising conditions for other workers is the way to end the supposedly unfair retirement system. He also pointed out that over the last 20 years the percentage of company income given to shareholders has increads by a third from 30 to 40% and that if this trend were reversed it could easily cover increases in pension and salary costs.