ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Les cheminots très mobilisés reconduisent la grève
Translated Saturday 14 June 2014, by
The rail workers are highly mobilized. According to the involved rail unions, half of the workers are on strike and the general assemblies of workers that were held across the country voted by a large margin to pursue the strike for another 24 hours. The largest rail union, the CGT, says it is available to meet the minister immediately.
A majority of the striking rail workers, who downed tools in answer to the call by several rail unions at the national rail company, the SNCF, voted on June 11 to continue their strike for another 24 hours, the CGT-Cheminots rail union announced. “All the general assemblies voted by a very wide margin to continue,” according to Thierry Nier, the national spokesman for CGT-Cheminots.
The CGT, the largest rail union, and SUD-Rail, the third-largest, called on the rail workers to down tools to contest the planned rail reform, which the French National Assembly is to debate from June 17 to June 19. Two other trade union organizations, FO and First, have joined in the strike, which began on June 10 at 7 p.m. and which the workers are pursuing by 24-hour stretches.
The four rail unions involved in the strike are demanding a return to the situation existing before 1997, i.e. for a reunification of the SNCF and the RFF in a single public company, and for the government to take over the 40-billion-euro rail debt.
Up to the present, in 80% of the French regions that have voted, “all of the general assemblies have voted to pursue the strike,” said Eric Falempin the general secretary of the FO federation of rail unions. “The total of the results from around 230 general assemblies allows us to state that more than one rail worker out of two is on strike today, in all of the job categories and services,” Mr. Nier stated, describing this level of participation as a “very, very high level.”
In the early morning of June 11, management said 27.84% of the total staff were on strike, more than in December, 2013 (23.7%) but fewer than in June 2013 (33.2%) at the same time. “Almost three out of four rail workers are on the job today and put their trust in the on-going dialogue,” said the director of human resources for the SNCF company, François Nogué, who added that “we’re a long ways from the 50% on strike that the two rail union confederations were betting on.”
The CGT-Cheminots and SUD-Rail rail unions, which are to be received on June 12 by the junior minister for transport, Frédéric Cuvillier, have both called for a broadening of the strike on June 12. “We’re asking all the rail workers to join in the strike to put on the pressure,” Mr. Nier said. “The CGT does not want this to drag on and is available to meet the minister before June 12,” he added.
“Today, participation in the strike is very high. Tomorrow, while the minister is receiving the rail union federations, there have got to be even more of us,” SUD-Rail said in a leaflet.
The junior minister for transport, Frédéric Cuvillier, said on RTL radio that he is ready to meet the trade union organizations “this evening, in the night, tomorrow, all day long.”
For the CGT, “without a response going in the direction of the demands for reunification and the financing of the system, on the mutualization of the human and materiel resources, on the social aspect, on jobs and wages, which have been put forward jointly by the CGT and SUD-Rail federations, the government and management will bear responsibility for the continuation of this strike. If Frédéric Cuvillier confirms the holding of an early meeting with the trade union organizations, the CGT and SUD-Rail federations will go to it to put forward the rail workers’ demands.”