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French rail workers set for regional strikes in December

Rail workers in northern France are planning a "major strike" during the month of December.

French rail workers set for regional strikes in December
A train arrives at the station in Strasbourg, eastern France (Photo by PATRICK HERTZOG / AFP)

Régis Hoffman, the head of the CFDT union for chéminots (rail workers) in the north-eastern region of Grand-Est, told BFMTV on Monday that he is planning “a major strike in December, in which there will be no or few trains running.”

Rail services in Grand-Est have already been affected by the train driver shortages, and according to Hoffman there are “simply not enough drivers left for the trains to be able to provide normally scheduled services,” which is why the union is calling for more resources.

The union boss said that the industrial action would likely start “before December 12th,” with more details forthcoming. Regional rail strikes usually impact on local TER services, with high-speed TGV trains less affected, although the level of disruption depends on how many workers heed the strike calls.

READ ALSO 5 things to know if you’re in France during a strike

As of November 8th, only the CFDT union head released strike plans – meaning only workers represented by this union in the Grand-Est region are currently concerned.

The announcement comes as Paris transport workers with the RATP service prepare to go on strike Thursday, November 10th, though this industrial action will be focused on protesting the high cost of living. 

READ MORE: Paris transport strike to cause ‘very heavy disruption’

Several other French regions are struggling with a lack of train drivers – SNCF announced it would be cancelling 136 TER services for the north of France (Hauts-de-France) in October, and the RER services in Paris have also increased train cancellations due to a lack of drivers to run them. 

In response to these shortages, the French Minister of Transport, Clément Beaune, promised on Monday, while on a visit to Dunkirk, that he would “accelerate training and recruitment.”

Beaune also called on SNCF, the national French rail service, to come up with a plan “as quickly as possible” to address the lack of drivers.

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TRANSPORT

Eurostar faces severe disruption at Christmas as staff vote to strike

High-speed train operator Eurostar will face security staff walkouts that will "severely" disrupt busy Christmas services, their trade union said on Wednesday.

Eurostar faces severe disruption at Christmas as staff vote to strike

Eurostar, which links London with Paris and Brussels, is the latest firm hit by strikes as salaries fail to keep pace with rocketing inflation in a cost-of-living crisis.

The RMT rail union said in a statement that members working as Eurostar security voted overwhelmingly to strike on December 16th, 18th, 22nd and 23rd.

“The strike action will severely affect Eurostar services and travel plans for people over the December period,” it added.

More than 100 staff had voted “emphatically” to reject a pay offer that was below inflation.

The RMT added that the security workers are employed by facilities contractor Mitie.

“Security staff are essential to the running of Eurostar and it is disgraceful they are not being paid a decent wage,” said RMT general secretary Mick Lynch.

“I urge Mitie and Eurostar to come to a negotiated settlement with RMT as soon as possible.”

Britain faces a grim winter of discontent this year as strikes multiply across public and private sectors as pay is eroded by surging consumer prices.

Ambulance workers on Wednesday joined nurses in voting to go on strike ahead of Christmas.

Numerous other staff, from lawyers to airport ground personnel, have also held strikes this year as Britain contends with its worst cost-of-living crisis in generations.

UK inflation accelerated in October to a 41-year peak at 11.1 percent on runaway energy and food bills.

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