Strikes For Members

France Facts: There has been a rail strike every year since 1947

The Local France
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France Facts: There has been a rail strike every year since 1947
French rail workers in Toulouse vote to extend strike action Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP

French workers can be quite a militant bunch and among them rail workers are generally considered among the most radical - with records from SNCF confirming this.


The French rail operator's records show that every year since 1947 there has been at least one strike on the network.

And that doesn't necessarily mean that pre-1947 was a golden age of industrial relations - just that SNCF's records are incomplete before then.

The company's human resources department in 2019 drew up a list of working days lost per employee per year, and confirmed to French radio station France Info that there had been at least one strike every year between 1947 and 2018.

There were fewer strikes in 2020 and 2021 as the country grappled with the pandemic, but January 2020 saw concerted action against pension reforms which included rail strikes, while the Christmas getaway in 2021 was also impacted by strikes. 

Both 2019 and 2023 have seen mass strike actions including days of railways disruption, both over the same issue - pension reform.

Over the last 70 years, the size of the industrial actions have varied - some have been major stoppages such as 2019 pension strikes which affected the whole country, while others have been minor local disputes that the majority of passengers didn't even notice.


According to SNCF's data, 1956 was the calmest year on the network, with with just 0.01 working days per employee lost.

The biggest number of working days lost was 1968 - the famous year when mass strikes gripped France for many months - with 4.7 million strikes days in total among the company's workforce, which at that time numbered 320,000 people.

Among the 10 worst years for strikes are also 1995 - when another protest over pension reform brought the country to a halt for three weeks - and five years from the last decade - 2007, 2010, 2016, 2018 and 2019.

We're only four months in to 2023, but already there have been 12 'days of action' against pension reform, all of which have included rail workers. 


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Anonymous 2020/01/27 21:02
another great reason not to go to French cities

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