French rail workers are striking today (December 7) to put pressure on SNCF management as annual salary negotiations begin.
Disruption is expected to be centred largely on the Paris-Lyon TGV route because of local action by signal workers, but some regional services will also be affected.
Less than one train in every three scheduled will run between Paris and Lyon today, with only one operating in the six hours between 06:00 and 12:00.
TER services will also be impacted, particularly in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Grand-Est, Occitanie and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.
In Ile-de-France, the C, D, E and N lines will be affected, along with RER services, and some other TGV and Intercités routes may also see some disruption.
The strike has been called by three unions: the CGT, Sud-Rail and the CFDT. The disruption is expected to extend into tomorrow morning (December 8), as the strike notice only comes to an end at 08:00.
As Christmas approaches, this type of industry action is likely to be repeated, as signal workers issue a strike notice for December 15-19 and ticket inspectors do the same for the following two weekends.
Today’s strike follows three days of mobilisation on July 6, September 29 and October 18, all over the question of pay. Lower-paid employees were offered a 3.7% salary increase in July, with 2.2% for higher management, but the inflation rate has continued to grow since then and the CGT is therefore demanding a pay rise which will match increases in the cost of living.
Sud-Rail has said that SNCF is expecting “record results” in 2022, and so is asking for an extra €400 gross per month for every staff member. In the first half of the year, SNCF made a net profit of €928million.
“Watch out, because if salaries increase too much, ticket prices will end up rising as well,” SNCF CEO Jean-Pierre Farandou has warned. He called on unions to look for a “balance between ticket prices on the one hand, and rising salaries on the other”.
In addition to pay rises, signal workers are calling for a recruitment drive, as they complain of understaffing. In May, it was agreed that 200 new staff members would be hired, but SNCF “has not kept its promises” Erik Meyer of Sud-Rail has said.