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French rail unions call national train strike

French rail unions have called for a national day of strike action to demand wage increases.

French rail unions call national train strike
Photo by CLEMENT MAHOUDEAU / AFP

The national rail strike is planned for Wednesday, July 6th, the day before French schools break up for the summer.

Three of the biggest rail unions – CFDT, Sud-Rail and CGT – have joined the strike call while a fourth, Unsa, is set to announce whether it will join next week.

They are demanding wage increases to help their members cope with the cost of living crisis, saying: “Railway workers are being hit hard, and are suffering a clear and sharp decline in their purchasing power.

They are asking for “measures to catch up with inflation in wages”, but also “a general increase in wages and the revaluation of all allowances, bonuses and indemnities”.

The strike notice issued is for a one-day action.

French workers in essential industries including rail are required to give bosses 48 hours notice of whether they intend to strike – this will allow rail operator SNCF to draw up strike timetables with limited services running. These will be published on Tuesday evening before the strike on Wednesday.

French schools break up for the summer on Thursday, July 7th and the following weekend is usually one of the busiest weekends on the railways as families depart for summer holidays. 

The strike covers employees on SNCF, and will not affect city public transport services such as the Paris Metro, although some of Paris’ regional RER and Transilien services are run by SNCF. 

Air travel in France has already been hit by strike action as airport employees and flight attendants have filed strike notices as they too demand wage increases to cope with the increased cost of living.

READ ALSO How strikes and staff shortages will affect France this summer 

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TRAVEL NEWS

French rail workers threaten more strikes over Christmas holidays

The month of December could be impacted by more strike action on French rail services, as unions threaten to walk out over the Christmas and New Year weekends.

French rail workers threaten more strikes over Christmas holidays

After a three-day strike between December 2nd and 4th that saw around 60 percent of services cancelled on the first day, conductors and ticket collectors have filed notice threatening to strike December 23rd to 26th and December 30th to January 2nd.

There are also separate calls for strike action on Wednesday, December 7th.

December 7th

Three unions (CGT, Sud-Rail and the CFDT) representing train drivers have called for a strike on Wednesday, in a joint memo. They are calling for a “united strike” ahead of a key meeting on Thursday between unions and bosses involved in a pay negotiation.

The statement published by the three unions says that the strike period will run from December 6th at 8pm to December 8th at 8am. According to Actu France, this movement could also affect Transilien lines in the Paris region.

Detailed information regarding the strike timetables, including which trains would be affected, should be available at least 24 hours in advance.

Christmas and New Year’s strikes

Unions have also filed strike notice for the Christmas (December 23rd to 26th) and New Year (December 30th to January 2nd), with the hopes of putting additional pressure on management. However, this is not yet confirmed, as it will depend on the results of the meetings, which will run from December 8th to the 22nd.

READ MORE: Strikes, prices and services – what you need to know about Christmas travel to France

“We will have fifteen days to reopen a dialogue and reach an agreement,” Nicolas Limon, a spokesperson for the inter-union National Collective ASCT, told AFP. “We will do our utmost to ensure that there is no strike at Christmas time.”

Why are rail workers striking?

According to Limon, the issue is that train conductors and ticket collectors are “not considered in the same way train drivers are, even though we work three weekends a month and sleep away from home ten nights a month.” 

Conductors and ticket collectors are also seeking salary increases and for bonuses to be included in the basic salary structure so that they can be taken into account in the calculation of retirement payments.

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