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STRIKES

Signal workers’ strike cripples rail services in south west France

A walkout by railway signal workers in south west France has badly hit train services in the region.

Trains at Matabiau railway station in Toulouse
(Photo: Eric Cabanis / AFP)

An estimated 80 percent of signal operators in the Occitanie region went on strike at 6pm on Sunday in a row over staffing and working conditions. 

As a result, very few local or regional rail services are operating, and national TGV services have also been badly affected.

“The circulation of trains in our region is deteriorating due to a lack of signal staff. This leads to closed stations, postponements of crossings, and therefore delays and, more seriously, train cancellations. Sometimes, we are no longer able to provide public service,” David Anton, CGT union representative, told local radio stations.

“For example, we have had, on several occasions, trains that have stopped at L’Isle-Jourdain when they were supposed to go to Auch because of a lack of staff to put in the stations in Auch or Gimont,” he continues. “We are always reorganising to cope with less staff … railway workers are fed up.”

The CGT said at least 17 positions were vacant in the region, and has demanded that management create 38 positions in order to compensate for absences caused by the Covid-19 crisis.

The strike will continue until 8.30am on Tuesday, with talks between unions and SNCF Midi-Pyrénées set to resume later the same day.

For up-to-date information on rail travel in Occitanie click here.

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STRIKES

Strike to ‘strongly disturb’ Parisian bus and tram services on Monday

Strikes over working conditions means that bus and tram lines in the French capital will be running at 60 percent capacity on Monday, with further disruption expected later in the week.

Strike to 'strongly disturb' Parisian bus and tram services on Monday

A fresh wave of strikes at the RATP – the company responsible for operating public transport in Paris – will result in widespread disruption on Monday. 

While Metro and RER services will run as normal, bus and tram services will operate at a significantly reduced capacity. 

In a notice to passengers published on Sunday evening, the RATP said that some bus lines would be closed completely. Only two out of three buses will run on the lines that remain open during the daytime. The night bus service will run as normal. 

On average, three out of five trams will run on Monday. 

Normal traffic is expected on tramlines T5, T6 and T7. 

On T1, only one out of two trams will run, with a ten minute interval between each shuttle. The line will only run between Gare de Noisy and Gare de Gennevilliers. Operation times are limited to 06:00-11:00 and 15h:00-20:00. 

On T2, only one out of two trams will run during rush hour. The line will connect Porte de Versailles and Puteaux with shuttles running every ten minutes during rush hour and every 20 minutes outside of this. Between Pont de Bezons and Charlebourg, shuttles will run every five minutes during rush hour and every fifteen minutes outside of this. 

T3a will operate one out of every two trams, exclusively between Pont du Garigliano and Porte d’Italie. The line will run from 06:30-11:00 and 16:30-21:00. 

T3b will operate half of all trams, exclusively between Porte de Vincennes and Porte de la Chapelle. Traffic will only run from 06:00-10:30 and 15:30-20:00. 

The T8 line is by far the most disrupted with only one in every four trams running. The line will only operate between Saint-Denis – Porte de Paris et Epinay–Orgemont. Trams will run between 06:00-10:00 and 16:00-20:00. 

Further strike action is expected on Wednesday, although RATP are yet to disclose the scale of that later disruption. 

What is behind the strikes? 

Bus and tram workers are striking over proposed plans to open up RATP services to subsidiary companies, with changes to working conditions.

As of January 1st, 2025, all bus will be transferred to the subsidiaries or competing companies who won bids issued by the regional transport authority, Île-de-France Mobilités. 

RATP plans to put the new working conditions into effect – those that would have been set to apply in 2025 – as early as July. These changes would impact at least 18,000 drivers. 

Specifically, drivers will fall under the “territorial social framework” (CST), the minimum legal framework for working hours, which will require 35 hours of work per week (and 37 hours per week for select drivers). Currently, the RATP’s rules regarding working hours are more advantageous, with the average driver working 33 hours a week (excluding overtime and travel time). 

Union management has been fighting against these proposed changes for over a year, having already held a strike March 25th, which impacted over 30 percent of bus lines in the Paris region.

Now, they calling for mobilisation to “defend their working conditions” again.

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