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(en) CGT-LKN Euskal Herria: 36 days of strike against the privatization of the railway in France (ca) [machine translation]

Date Wed, 11 Apr 2018 06:10:51 +0300

On April 3 they began with great success the 36 days of strike called by the railway workers from here to June (two days of strike in five) to defend their status as public employees and fight against the privatization of the public railway company. ---- Macron will face from today on to his first big challenge on the street. The railway workers of France call a strike two out of every five days during the next months. The reason is to defend its status as public workers, while the Government does not give in its strategy of labor liberalization, already begun in the previous legislature when the now President of the Republic was Minister of Economy. ---- Before the summer it is wanted to approve a total reform of the National Society of Railroads (SNCF) , in which the suppression of the statute of the railwaymen is its most controversial point, although not the only one. The reform will result in the entry of private capital into the public company , with the objective, according to the Government, of reducing the 50,000 million euros of SNCF debt.

True to his style of recent months, the prime minister announced that the reform will be carried out through ordinances. These decrees allow "speed up legislative procedures", that is, not have to go through parliamentary debate, which according to the Government does not mean to ignore the debate, since they have already spent more than 300 hours of negotiations with the unions. But this is not the only reason; the Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, made it clear in his speech announcing the reforms: "If some try to pervert the rail debate by turning it into an ideological debate disconnected from the mobility needs of the French, the Government will have to assume its responsibility."

Before making this decision a report on the situation of the railway model was commissioned to Jean-Cyril Spinetta, ex-director of Air France: "The opening to competition should be the occasion to modernize the railroad and make it more competitive, it will be a success that will be It will translate into improved quality, the diversification of services offered to travelers and a reduction in costs for users and public finances ".

Based on this report and its recommendations, the decision was made to abolish the statute to guarantee the competitiveness of the company against other competitors . The reading that the Executive makes is that it is necessary to modernize and that entails the loss of certain historical rights that the railroad workers had acquired, which from now on will be governed by the Labor Code as any worker of the private company. The prime minister has assured that workers who are already under the statute will keep it.

Cassandra works on the sale of train tickets at the Paris Saint-Lazare station. She joined the SNCF two and a half years ago and is the last of the people hired in her service who enjoys the status: "We have to work more and more every day to increase productivity, all with the aim of facilitating the opening to the competition If tomorrow our position is transferred to a private company, we lose the status. " Explain that, today, the statute protects them from collective dismissals, a situation that will change with the new model.

"Our working conditions are quite complicated, we are not privileged as they try to make us believe, " he adds. In his case, the struggle is not only for his own work, but for solidarity with the new workers who will not have that status: "The change of model in France does not affect only us, it is a general precarization of the world of work" .

In the SNCF there are already workers who do not enjoy the protection of the statute.Laura is from Argentina and has been working in the control of rail traffic for two years. In your case you can not access the statute because you do not have French nationality and have been hired when you are over 30 years old, the two reasons why certain workers were excluded so far. "In the SNCF there is no dismissal for economic reasons, but for a worker like me it is much easier for the company to say goodbye," he says. His position is of high responsibility, "if I'm wrong I can cause accidents". In his opinion, the issue of safety must be prioritized to that of profitability and punctuality, since it is a public service: "Workers must have sufficient stability in their employment to report in case the company tries to pass This is above security. "

She also thinks that the reform is a global attack on public services that will not affect only railroads. And he explains that there is a debate among the workers about the type of strike and that the unions could be overwhelmed by the bases. The SNCF has stopped selling tickets for the days of strike, "the company adapts to the strike thanks to the majority union (CGT) made a calendar." His union, Sud Rail, is committed to a hard and indefinite strike since "an unprecedented attack must give an unprecedented response." In the next few days it will be decided if the calendar is maintained or if an indefinite strike is launched.

Before the reforms of Macron, the French company continues divided. On the one hand, the transformation of the SNCF is no surprise, let alone that the intention of the Government goes through the liberalization of work. When Macron won the elections and later a National Assembly was formed with a large majority of his party, his intentions were already known in this regard. The national press is also not very favorable to the cause of railway workers, often presenting them as privileged and categorizing their rights as relics of the past. However, the strike of March 22 was a success,with one out of every three workers on strike according to the SNCF. Some leaders of left-wing parties, such as Mélenchon and Hamon, were present at the demonstration along with the railroads. A resistance box has also been opened for the strikers, who accumulate more than 60,000 euros in just one week. The forecasts as of today speak of more than 70% of strikers and of a paralyzed country.

The railroads are not the only ones who are up in arms. Today public officials, academics, workers in the energy sector and Air France, among others, are mobilizing against various government reforms. The fight against "Macron and his world", as many call him already, will try to take advantage of the strike of the railwaymen to become strong. In a month will be 50 years of the May 1968 revolts and the largest strike in the history of France, seconded by between seven and nine million workers.The new Labor Code and the liberalizations, including that of the SNCF, are the biggest steps back in terms of labor rights since then. The follow-up and the strength of the protests will be decisive, not only for the plans of the Government, but also for the future of the French. Spring has only just begun.


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