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

France Facts: There has been a rail strike every year since 1947
Photo: 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 has confirmed 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 has drawn 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.

Of course the size of the industrial actions have varied – some have been major stoppages such as the one currently paralysing transport systems all over the 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 four years from the last decade – 2007, 2010, 2016 and 2018.

Totals figures for 2019 have not yet been released but that was hardly the calmest year on the railways, with several different industrial actions culminating in mass walk-outs from December 5th in protest over plans to reform the French pension system.


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