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SNCF staff walkout hits regional rail services in France

A strike has hit regional rail services in France as members of two unions walk out as part of a pay dispute.

An SNCF regional TER train at Saint-Charles railway station in Marseille
Photo: Bertrand Langlois / AFP

The CGT Cheminots and Sud-Rail unions have called the strike – which started at 8pm on Tuesday, November 16th and runs to 8am on Thursday, November 18th – as they demand an increase in wages which have been frozen for several years.

Long-distance rail services are unaffected by the walkout, but French rail operator SNCF said in a statement that it had been obliged to adapt regional schedules and urged users to only travel if necessary.

The strike coincides with annual pay negotiations, with unions demanding ‘significant’ increases. “[SNCF] management would like to impose in 2021 a seventh year of salary freeze. However, profits [are] increasing … at the same time, the cost of living has continued to increase in recent years,” CGT Cheminots and Sud-Rail said in a statement.

Regional rail schedules across the country are affected;

  • In Ile-de-France, 80 percent of trains will run as scheduled on the RER B during peak hours on Wednesday and 75 percent during off-peak hours.
  • RER D will operate three services out of four.
  • Just 50 percent of services will run on Transilien line N.
  • A ‘normal’ service is operating on Line R, but services from Melun to Montereau via Héricy, Seine-et-Marne, will be provided by an alternative bus service.

SNCF expects to operate six out of 10 services on its IO trains in Occitanie, with disrupted services partially replaced by alternative bus services. The walkout has also affected regional services between Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and Occitanie.

Some TER lines will be disrupted in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region, with the rail operator maintaining 73 percent of its TER services. Substitute bus services will replace cancelled trains.

SNCF has said most regional services will operate in Auvergne Rhône Alpes – though some have been replaced by an alternative bus service.

Meanwhile, 85 percent of the Rémi and Rémi Express network will operate as scheduled in Centre-Val de Loire, though some interruptions and cancellations are expected.

The latest information is available on the SNCF regional website, which can be accessed from this link – click Changer de Région at the top left to find your local area.

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STRIKES

UPDATE: French air traffic controllers cancel strike action in September

The main union representing French air traffic controllers has cancelled calls for a strike from September 28th to 30th, after "reaching an agreement with their supervisory ministry."

UPDATE: French air traffic controllers cancel strike action in September

SNCTA, the main union for air traffic controllers said this week that they had lifted their calls for a three-day strike at the end of September after coming to an agreement with France Ministry of Transport. 

In a statement on its website, the SNCTA said “In view of the concrete progress made on the demands, the SNCTA is lifting its [strike] notice for September 28th, 29th and 30th. The strong mobilisation of September 16th was necessary and instrumental for reaching this conciliation in a very constrained calendar. Thank you to all of you!” 

The French ministry of transport has not yet commented on the above agreement or lifting of the strike.

The International Air Transport Association tweeted their support for the SNCTA’s decision to cancel further industrial action, calling Friday’s strike “unnecessary.”

The association also urged the European Union to implement a “Single European Sky.” This reform, which was put forward almost 20 years ago, has not yet reached fruition. It intends to shift the current system of air traffic organisation away from national borders and toward a “coherent zone” in order to reduce emissions and save both time and money.

The strike on September 16th left over 1,000 flights in France grounded, as well as widespread delays and over 2,400 flight cancellations across Europe. 

The SNCTA mobilised for wage increases due to the rising cost of living, in addition to an acceleration of recruitment in order to anticipate a wave of retirements. After Friday’s action, the union had called for further strikes from September 28th to 30th before reaching an agreement with their supervisory ministry. 

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