why a strike is still possible for departures on Christmas holidays


By Richard Flurin

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If the so-called reformist unions signed the salary agreement within the deadline, the CGT-Cheminots and SUD-Rail, the majority within the SNCF, refused to do so.

One month before Christmas, the threat ofa strike on the French rail network during major departures is not yet ruled out. Certainly, the unions considered reformist, CFDT-Cheminots and Unsa-Ferroviaire, signed the salary agreement proposed by SNCF management within the allotted time – before Wednesday evening. But the other two unions, accustomed to the balance of power and customary with threats of strike, did not initial the employer’s proposals. CGT-Cheminots and SUD-Rail, however, represent the majority of employees of the public company (57.33% of the votes in the last professional elections in November 2022), making the agreement obsolete.

An inter-union meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 28. SUD-Rail, which has threatened a strike for Christmas since November 14, intends to propose to the CGT-Cheminots to file a joint notice. “Our slogan has not changed: a day of strike during major departures”entrusted to Figaro Fabien Villedieu, SUD-Rail union delegate. The CGT-Cheminots did not immediately respond to our requests. In any case, it remains too early to prejudge the outcome of the debates between the two non-signatory organizations. The SUD-Rail representative, however, recalls that his union is “arch-majority among driving agents», which constitute the sinews of war in a social movement like this.

A time ripe for strikes

In the event that a strike notice is filed next Tuesday, jeopardizing part of the rail travel for the holidays, it will remain to observe the position of management. Last year, like many other years before it, trains were canceled at Christmas and New Year due to a social movement led by the same SUD-Rail and CGT-Cheminots.

The two organizations have not accepted the management’s proposals which they consider “unreasonable“. “What is proposed is a salary increase below inflation (+4% in October, Editor’s note)», says Fabien Villedieu indignantly. The SNCF is proposing a salary increase which it estimates at 4.6% on average over the year 2024. In addition to a 1.8% general increase, the railway group will pay a value sharing bonus of 400 euros to nearly 140,000 railway workers. Management has also committed to increasing low salaries so that none falls below the level of 1.1 times the minimum wage.



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