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French transport disrupted by a SNCF specialty: strikes

Normally I will not share political views on this blog, but encore une fois? BBC reports:

French public sector workers are holding a day-long, nationwide strike to protest against the government’s social and economic policies. The strike was causing some transport disruption, French media reports said….Hundreds of train workers were expected to walk during the strike out over planned reforms to the pension service, prompting travel problems across the country’s rail network.
About half the trains were running on Paris commuter lines on Tuesday morning, while nearly two-thirds of national high-speed TGV services were operating, according to French news agency AFP…

This time is not as bad as previous instances, but my personal opinion is that a strike here and there for standing up for worker rights, I understand. But they never end. The main reason why SNCF is striking, for example, is so that they can keep their privileged early retirement (in general they must work a few years less than the general population). But this is an old law that dates from when being a “cheminot” (employee of train services) was actually a physically grueling job (loading coal for power during the ride, etc.).

Now it seems to be an exaggeration, a selfish act that takes people like me who commute hostage. The magazine Capital had a special report on SNCF last April that was quite enlightening. Average SNCF workers do about 25 hours of real work per week. La Tribune most recently published a scathing article about the SNCF head, Guillaume Pepy.

The French government has a ballooning national debt, in particular in pensions for the aging baby-boomer generation now starting to take their retirement. People will have to work more years, but people are also living longer. The retirement age in France is 60, quite low by Europe standards. If SNCF workers want a healthy French economy, they will have to do their part to contribute to growth instead of hamper efforts to cut debt while disrupting the commutes of people who go to their jobs without going on strike. They think they are striking for everyone, but it’s only themselves who they have in mind instead of their fellow countrymen.

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  1. Matt
    March 23rd, 2010 at 15:19 | #1

    I agree that these reforms are necessary, but unfortunately due to the economic crisis, the Socialists will take over the government and reforms will not happen. My guess is that by 2014, France will end up like Greece is today.

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