France: Thousands of Railway Workers Rally to Defend Public Train Service

3 Jun 2024

On May 28, nearly 8,000 railway workers, organized by the Trade Unions representing railways workers, gathered in Paris for an important demonstration. This event marked a unified stand against the ongoing dismantling of France’s public railway system, the SNCF, under the pressure of liberalization and competition from the private sector. It also highlighted broader concerns about other European railway systems facing similar issues. The demonstration featured railway workers from across France, supported by delegations from European trade unions, highlighting the widespread opposition to the privatization of public rail services.

The workers voiced their demands clearly, calling for the protection of the state-owned SNCF, particularly its freight division, Fret SNCF. They are opposed the liberalization and privatization that threatens job security and the integrity of the public transport system. The protest also emphasized the need for improved working conditions, a general pay rise, and the safeguarding of recruitment authorizations to enhance production and working environments. Furthermore, the protest underscored the necessity for the rail sector to remain a public service, crucial for sustainable transport and climate action.

The event in Paris was more than a national protest; it was a European call to action. Speeches from leaders, including Giorgio Tuti, Chair of the Railway Section at the ETF, reinforced the message that the liberalization of the railway market is a broader issue affecting all of Europe. The protestors urged political action, especially with the upcoming EU elections, to prioritize public investment in railways, ensuring they remain public services rather than avenues for private profit. The collective voice from Paris was clear: the public train must be put back on track, securing a sustainable and equitable future for all.