SNCF staff announce strike across France with a delay of 20 hours

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The CGT-Cheminots workers union announced the strike plans on Friday August 28. It was quickly supported by other unions, FSU, Solidaires and youth organizations. The strike is scheduled to begin at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday September 16 and last until 7:55 a.m. on Friday September 18.But the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire has already responded with perplexity to the plans.

Speaking to the news network France Inter on August 29, he declared: “I find it hard to understand why they are calling for a strike by the SNCF when we have just erased 35 billion euros of SNCF debt, and that, as part of the” plan stimulus ”- which the Prime Minister will explain in detail next week – there will be massive investments in rail transport.

“I’m simply asking the question: what will this SNCF strike lead to? What are the objectives? Why is the CGT calling for the SNCF strike, and what will this improve for the railway workers? [rail workers]? »

Prime Minister Jean Castex is due to reveal more about the imminent “recovery plan” on Thursday 3 September.

Read more: France reaches 700,000 tests – but ‘relaunch’ re-entry is delayed

Speaking of the plan, Le Maire said: “Consumption picked up in May and June. We have everything we need to be successful and we will make it happen. ”

However, the minister acknowledged: “I am not saying that we will have results that will allow us to avoid all bankruptcies. [but] we will spare no effort on the part of the state. The economic situation of businesses is my most immediate concern. ”

The SNCF strike comes as the company announced it had been hit with serious financial problems due to the Covid-19 crisis and confirmed that its Eurostar branch had been further disrupted due to the quarantine surprise of August 15 in the United Kingdom.

Services across the Channel are operating at less than 20% of their usual capacity, Eurostar said.

Read more: Quarantine in UK: Eurostar cuts services by 80%

20-hour SNCF delays in the southwest

The announcement of the SNCF strike also comes hours after major delays of up to 8 p.m. were declared last night (Sunday, August 30), affecting thousands of train passengers in the southwest of the country. .

A dozen TGV SNCF trains were blocked between Dax and Bordeaux (New Aquitaine) due to a series of blackouts. SNCF declared: “A new major power supply fault has just occurred between Dax and Bordeaux and requires a diagnostic test and a consequent repair.”

Delays of 20 hours have been reported, affecting thousands of passengers, some of whom have tried to sleep on the floor while waiting for the train to move. A passenger tweeted that he had not received any food or water despite being stuck on the train “all night”.

A traveler, Grégory, spoke with news service FranceInfo, saying; “They announced that we would arrive in Paris at 9:13 am, so nearly 20 hours behind the initial schedule.”

He joked: “I hope we will at least break a record. [for the delay]. »

Another passenger named Marjolaine, who was delayed for more than three and a half hours on an Inoui TGV from Bayonne, said they were given “a small bottle of water” but no food.

She said, “It was hell… no food, only a little bottle of water, it was hot with our masks on and they kept us on board even though they could have let us go. We didn’t know if we were going to die first of hunger, thirst, Covid or lack of hygiene …

“We had no information and no meals; everything had been given before boarding, when the train was already blocked.

The train stopped several times along the way, and finally backed up to bring passengers back to Biarritz at 3 a.m.

Trains were still stuck on the line in the morning, especially TGV 8538, in the Landes – the service should not restart properly until Tuesday morning. Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari declared today (Monday August 31): “SNCF will reimburse tickets up to 300%.”

This amount was higher than that given earlier in the night on Twitter by the SNCF, which had announced that it would reimburse the tickets up to 200%.

Mr. Djebbari indicated that the lines would intend to reopen Tuesday morning, but that “the work to be done was important” on 60 km of track.

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