France rail strikes: unions have until midday to respond to SNCF offer

A third of trains are expected to be cancelled today as the result of a ticket inspector strike. Passengers can now claim compensation

French rail unions have until midday today to respond to an offer from SNCF, aimed at averting a strike next weekend
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Rail unions SUD-Rail and CGT have until midday today to respond to a proposal made by SNCF to avert a strike on New Year’s weekend (December 31-January 1).

French ticket inspectors are already striking this weekend (December 23-25), meaning that one in three trains are cancelled on average today, and two in five on Saturday and Sunday.

Read more: France rail strikes: Two in five TGV trains cancelled this weekend

The strike has provoked anger among government ministers, who have called on SNCF management to find a way to resolve the situation, and urged striking workers to acknowledge “their responsibilities”.

Government spokesperson Olivier Véran called for SNCF workers “who wanted to strike” to “give up” on the action and “understand the legitimate desire of French people to be able to see their family in good conditions” this Christmas.

Minister for Ecological Transition and Cohesion of the Territories Christophe Béchu has told France 2: “I think deciding to strike on December 24 and 25 spoils the right to strike. After the years that we have gone through, there is a need for people to see each other.

“200,000 French people will not be able to take a train to spend Christmas with their loved ones, and that is not right.

“Working for SNCF is not like working for just anywhere. You have a responsibility,” to the public, he added.

Finance Minister Clément Beaune has estimated that the ticket inspector strike will cost SNCF around €100million.

SNCF bosses met with union leaders over video call last night (December 22), and proposed “strong supplementary measures in recognition of the ticket inspector profession, the creation of new positions and more career progression”.

SNCF had already offered a ‘prime de travail’ totalling €600, as well as an additional €600 gross bonus. It is now proposing that this specific ticket inspector bonus be increased to €720 per year.

Jean-Pierre Farandou, SNCF’s CEO, has also called on the sense of “responsibility” of ticket inspectors. “Unfortunately, this weekend it is already too late [...] but that is not a reason to punish French people twice over,” he told RTL yesterday.

“It is still possible to prevent New Year’s weekend from being ruined.”

The director of SNCF Voyageurs, Christophe Fanichet, has told France Inter this morning that he believes that the proposals put forward by the operator “should result in an agreement”.

However, a spokesperson for the Unsa-Ferroviaire union said yesterday that there will “definitely” be cancellations next weekend as well.

Compensation claim form launched

SNCF has previously said that anyone whose train is cancelled because of the strike, or who has to change their journey plans because of the disruption, will be entitled to compensation equating to 200% of the original cost of their ticket.

Read more: French Christmas rail strikes: 200% ticket refunds for cancellations

This is in addition to a full refund if your train is cancelled between today and December 26, or a free exchange if you decide to swap to a different service.

The compensation will take the form of a voucher, and claims can be made online on this page.

The above link will take you to a private chat function to which you can explain your situation. You can fill in the reason for your compensation request, the date of your booked journey and whether your original ticket has been cancelled or exchanged.

The chatbot will then send you to the claim form, which can also be accessed directly here.

You can also send an email to the customer service department, but the “processing time will be lengthened” because of the strike.

SNCF has said that people whose Ouigo service has been cancelled should receive compensation automatically to the email address they entered to receive their ticket.

Why is the strike happening?

Ticket inspectors are protesting against their current pay and career progression. A strike notice was issued by the CGT and SUD-Rail unions for December 23-26 and December 30-January 2.

The CFDT and Unsa unions have not issued a strike notice. CGT and SUD-Rail are not actively calling on their members to strike, but have not retracted their notices, leaving it up to workers whether they choose to take action or not.

The possibility of a strike emerged from a Facebook group uniting 3,500 of France’s 10,000 ticket inspectors, called le Collectif ACST.

The CFDT and Unsa unions accepted the proposals already tabled by SNCF, and it is also for this reason that CGT and SUD-Rail have not explicitly called for workers to strike.

Air France strike

An Air France cabin crew strike for December 22 until January 2 began yesterday. However, the airline has stated that all scheduled flights will run as planned today and tomorrow.

Forecasts for the coming days will be published 24 hours before.

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