They don't intend to give up. After a “last chance” meeting held Monday evening at the SNCF headquarters in Saint-Denis, the CGT and Sud-Rail maintained their call for a controllers’ strike from February 16 to 18. A strike in the middle of the school holidays which aims, according to the unions, to sanction “commitments not kept” by the company. According to Fabien Villedieu, member of the federal office of Sud-Rail and guest on RMC's morning show this Tuesday, the movement promises to be very "followed": between "70% and 90%" controllers have already declared themselves strikers. Enough to seriously disrupt the rail service this weekend, since most trains are not authorized to run without controllers. “No controllers, no trains,” summarizes Fabien Villedieu.
The winter holidays are, like the holidays, a highlight of annual rail traffic: each year, more than 10 million travelers take the train during this school holiday period. Invited at the same time on RTL's morning show, SNCF CEO Jean-Pierre Farandou deplored this Tuesday the controllers' decision to maintain the strike. “I am disappointed, I regret that the SNCF cannot be completely there for this school weekend,” he declared, while urging the controllers to “think”. “A controller who works means 500 more French people go on vacation,” he said.
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The CEO of SNCF, however, indicated that the company had not “yet finalized the transport offer” which will be offered to users this weekend. It is therefore impossible to know the ratio of trains canceled by the company. The head of the SNCF, however, promises to “do the maximum”, trying to serve all major French cities. Priority will be placed on “snow” destinations (Alps, Pyrenees), as well as on children’s trips, via the maintenance of the “Junior and company” offer. Travelers will know “two days before” their departure whether the circulation of their train will be maintained or not.
A few days before leaving zone B on vacation, the possibility of a lifting of the strike notice seems more and more improbable. Through the media, the leader of the SNCF and the union leader of the movement expressed their deep disagreement. The CGT and Sud-Rail unions denounce the failures of the SNCF on the commitments made during the last major strike which disrupted the 2022 Christmas holidays. On RMC, Fabien Villedieu deplored the postponement to 2025 of the obligation to be present of two controllers in the TGVs and the delay in negotiations relating to the gradual cessation of activity. The trade unionist also recalled the demands of the controllers in terms of “purchasing power”, in particular that of a monthly revaluation.
For his part, CEO Jean-Pierre Farandou listed the concessions already made in favor of controllers and railway workers, including more than 800 euros of increase in the form of performance bonuses. “The controllers have already had a 500 euro increase in two years. No more increases, this poses a problem of cohesion with the railway workers, and financially,” he commented. The boss of the SNCF, however, says he is “ready to take into account the controllers' requests”, but wishes to favor “cold negotiations in the coming months”.