Report by Kamgar Ekta Committee (KEC) correspondent
On July 6, four workers’ unions of the SNCF (the state-owned railways of France) — CGT, UNSA, SUD-Rail and CFDT – went on strike. The strike paralysed train services throughout the country.
The railway workers are demanding an immediate increase in wages due to the rising cost of living. The inflation in France has risen to 6.5% in June 2022, which was only 0.5% in 2020. The workers have pointed out that there has been no general wage increase since 2014. The railway unions of France have raised the issue of wage raise with the management several times in the past few months.
Entry-level salaries are very low. Work in the railways is of very high stress, 3 x 8 shift work, night work, weekend work, etc., but the salaries are very low. Workers have important operational responsibilities, because the slightest mistake can cost lives. Even then the workers get only slightly above guaranteed minimum wage!
On June 16, the railway worker’s unions — CGT, UNSA, SUD-Rail and CFDT — had unitedly approached the management for wage negotiations. But the management met the unions in bilateral meetings and only promised a meeting on July 6, regarding the demand for a wage hike. The strike call was given to put maximum pressure on the management to work out a settlement in favour of the workers’ demands.
The July 6 strike showed that rail workers of France are determined to unitedly carry on their struggle for their demands.