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Strike of the controllers in France | Christmas departures disrupted in stations, the New Year saved

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(Paris) The strike of the controllers disrupts this Christmas weekend in the stations but the French will be able to return from vacation normally after the New Year, thanks to an agreement validated Friday between the SNCF and its unions.

At Montparnasse station, travelers thronged the platforms at the end of the afternoon, to take their train to the west of France.

“I consider myself lucky,” confided Anne-Marie Cholet, 40, who was joining her family in Brest. Leaving Besançon this morning, none of her trips have been canceled. “My return is scheduled for Friday the 30th, so with the agreement reached today, I am finally reassured”, she testifies, with a smile on her face.

Colin Menis, 26, is less fortunate: his December 26 return ticket has been canceled. “I support the strike, but in the future we need to find a way to reach management with less impact on users,” added this history and geography professor.

“Significant progress”

An evening of negotiations Thursday between the four unions and the management of the SNCF made it possible to find a solution to this conflict which had been prolonged since the end of October.

The collective of controllers at the origin of the strike (CNA), as well as the two unions SUD-Rail and CFDT, underlined in a joint press release that “the conflict could have been avoided if the negotiations had been more important as was the case last night” and are delighted “with the significant progress” obtained.

Among the measures recorded in the agreement, the creation of a “leadership of the captains” in order to be more attentive to the problems that could arise for the controllers.

The specific bonus for controllers will also increase from 600 to 720 euros and management has undertaken to hire 200 additional controllers in 2023, in addition to the 350 already planned.

Finally, guarantees of career development and salary progression have been promised by management.

truck trip

Nothing that changes the situation for the 200,000 passengers, out of 800,000, who saw their train canceled between Friday and Sunday. A third of the trains were canceled on Friday and 40% on Saturday and Sunday, almost only TGVs.

The trains are prepared several days in advance and cannot be rescheduled overnight, especially since the Christmas strikers are well covered by advance notice.

In the stations of France, the customers of the railway company oscillated between fatalism and annoyance, but in calm, the “cancelled” travelers having been warned several days in advance. At the Gare de Lyon or at Montparnasse in Paris, controllers sometimes let passengers board to fill the last empty seats, even without the correct ticket.


PHOTO SARAH MEYSSONNIER, REUTERS

Passengers wait for their train at Gare de Lyon in Paris.

Customers whose ticket has been canceled have six months to complete the online compensation form, according to the SNCF.

Some of the disappointed SNCF customers turned to the car: in Île-de-France, nearly 350 kilometers of traffic jams were observed around 5:30 p.m., according to the Sytadin site.

In Saône-et-Loire, a few abandoned travelers were able to board trucks from the transport company Prudent, which offered them to join their families, according to information from France Bleu confirmed by AFP.

Others chose the bus to arrive in time for New Year’s Eve.


PHOTO NOEMIE OLIVE, REUTERS

Travelers prepare to board a coach at the Bercy terminus in Paris.

This is the case of Patricia Jouanne, 64, who was waiting for her coach for Poitiers on Friday morning at the Paris-Bercy bus station.

“I’m leaving, that’s the main thing, but I’m going to take four hours instead of two hours. It annoys me a little, they annoy a lot of people, ”says Mme Jouanne about the SNCF strikers.

More unusual, at Brest station, a handful of grandparents demonstrated against the strike which, according to them, prevented them from seeing their families.

“I wanted the SNCF strikers, who are going to prevent us all from seeing our children and grandchildren, to put faces to the people they were going to penalize,” Jean-Luc Péran, a 65-year-old retiree, told AFP. who wears a Santa Claus hat and a sign saying “Sans Noël C’est Foutu”.



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