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SNCF strike: black Tuesday in sight for users

Ⓒ AFP – CHRISTOPHE SIMON – | An SNCF agent on the platform of the Gare de Lyon where
a crowded train of passengers is ready for departure on 3 April
2018 in Paris

Trains at a standstill, traffic very disrupted on the rail
and “exceptional” on the roads of Ile-de-France: with an
average TGV on eight and a regional train out of five
announced, the railway workers set the tone Tuesday of their
mobilization to counter the reform of SNCF.

As the SNCF management had anticipated, the traffic is “very
disturbed” for the first day of a long-term strike. Management
has identified nearly one out of every two railroad (48%) and
up to three out of four among drivers (77%).

The four representative unions (CGT, Unsa, SUD, CFDT) oppose
the rail reform project, which “aims to destroy the rail public
service by pure ideological dogmatism,” according to them.

Abolition of hiring at the SNCF status, opening to
competition or the transformation of the SNCF into a public
limited company, the beginnings of a future privatization for
the unions, are all scarecrows in their eyes.

They also believe that the reform “will not settle the
subject of the debt (46.6 billion euros at the end of 2017 for
SNCF Réseau, ed), nor that of malfunctions”.

Ⓒ AFP – Vincent LEFAI – | The strike at the SNCF

On the main lines, the SNCF forecasts an average TGV on
eight, the South-East axis being the most affected (one out of
10). The same goes for the Intercités, of which seven lines
will not be served outright. The boss of the SNCF Guillaume
Pepy had warned that lines would be “closed”.

In the regions, one TER and one in five Transilien are
announced. In Ile-de-France, RER traffic will be variable along
the axes, ranging from one train out of two to one in five.
Some branches will not be served. Tuesday morning, the SNCF
evoked in Ile-de-France a traffic “in conformity with the
forecasts”.

Result, at the entrance of Paris, shortly before 08H00, 370
km of traffic jams were recorded by the site Sytadin, a traffic
“exceptional for this hour”.

– “Negotiations on the merits” –

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – ERIC PIERMONT – | The CEO of SNCF Guillaume Pepy February 27, 2018 in
Saint-Denis

Gare de Lyon, in Paris, four “red vests” of the SNCF
assistance answer in the emergency but calmly with the flow of
questions put by the users of the RER D, schedules of the
trains in hand.

“Montargis I think you can not go today,” an agent replies.
“My train for Corbeil is 35 but where is it?” “We get
information”.

Not far from there, dozens of people fix the signs showing
the trains to come and those, more numerous, canceled.

Some travelers took their precautions. Farid Hachelef, 32,
works in the building and “chose to spend the night in Paris
with a friend”. “Because I live in Argenteuil, otherwise I
would never have done it,” he says.

The movement is combined in the air with the fourth day of
strike at Air France for wages. The company plans to provide
75% of the flights.

Ⓒ AFP – Maryam EL HAMOUCHI – | Calendar of strike days of the SNCF

The remonstrances of Mr. Pepy or the Minister of Transport
Elisabeth Borne, blasting a strike “staggered” or
“incomprehensible” in view of the “consultation” engaged, did
not begin the determination of unions.

Despite different modalities, CGT, Unsa, SUD and CFDT are
all launched in the battle: a strike by episode of two days out
of five until June 28 for CGT, Unsa and CFDT; an indefinite
strike renewable by 24 hours for SUD-Rail.

Opposite, the government intends to hold on, seeing in this
strike a “posture blocking (…) not justified”, as said
Elisabeth Borne.

– “Between 10 and 20 million a day” –

But for the CGT, the first union force
of the company, “the government and management would be better
inspired to open negotiations on the merits”. In Le Parisien,
the number one CGT Cheminots Laurent Brun accuses the
management of the SNCF to seek “the confrontation between
strikers and non-strikers”.

In Le Figaro, Laurent Berger, general secretary of the CFDT,
also called for discussion. “The sooner we discuss with the
executive, the more likely we are to avoid a hard conflict that
I do not want,” he said.

“Negotiations are continuing”, with “a dozen meetings”
scheduled this week, insisted Monday Mathias Vicherat, deputy
general manager of the SNCF.

For his part, Alain Krakovitch, general manager of
Transilien, estimated “between 10 and 20 million per day” the
cost of the strike.

For the press, Emmanuel Macron and the
government “play very big” in front of this “first social bone”
of the quinquennium. “The war of attrition” is declared, with
the title Le Parisien and Le Figaro.

Especially since the social storm will not stop at rail and
Air France Tuesday. In addition to student discontent, the CGT
calls for a strike in the entire waste sector (public and
private) and has also filed a notice in the energy sector.

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