Macron wants to stop rail workers retiring at 52

TGV train from three-quarter front left
Rail workers have been told by President Macron he wants to change their retirement ages

President says SNCF needs major reform and cheminots must be part of the change

Rail giant SNCF is set for a bumpy ride as President Macron has told rail workers he wants to end their special retirement terms – where on-train staff retire at 52 and other rail workers at 57.

Speaking to a group of rail workers on the inaugural TGV from Le Mans to Rennes, he said: "Your challenge will be to no longer protect the past... the real challenge will be to say: if you want to defend your business, you have to reinvent it."

His move comes as two senators launch a plan to end the SNCF monopoly and transfer TER and Intercités lines to private operators, with staff transferred to the new companies.

TGV lines would also be affected but the senators, Hervé Maurey and Louis Nègre, said it would have to be done differently to protect less-profitable routes by giving exclusive operating rights to one operator.

Sitting beside SNCF head Guillaume Pepy, Mr Macron told the ‘cheminots’ that “those who are five years from retiring will not be affected, the others will have the rights they have gained and then switch towards a single regime where each euro paid in will give the same rights”.

He was echoing a speech on his presidential campaign trail where he said one single pension regime should be in force for all workers in France.

In return for full-scale reform of SNCF, Mr Macron said that the government would wipe out the company’s debts, which top €44billion and act as a severe restraint on its business.

However, rail unions replied that SNCF debt was not their problem, with Sud-Rail saying it had existed since the creation of the SNCF and was down to the state’s political and strategic choices in the development of the rail network.

Sud-Rail and CGT-Cheminots have now called for strike action next Tuesday as part of the national day of protest against the new Code de Travail.

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