The railway workers in France have a particular place in the culture and the ethos of the country. They were given particular rights like special pensions and early retirement, due to their role in rebuilding France after the nation’s liberation from Nazi Germany occupying forces in 1944 that do not apply to workers in other sectors.
So when a president of the French Republic comes forward to challenge these rights, there are real political consequences in the French culture. French workers see railway workers as being at the cutting edge of the organized working class and when they’re attacked, other workers will come to their aid.
French President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to revoke special pension and retirement benefits for railway drivers in an effort to increase rail sector competitiveness. Under Macron’s reform plan, new railway hires would not be given jobs for life and early retirement guarantees that are currently provided to rail employees.
In addition, the SNCF, France’s national state-owned railway company, would be converted into a private company whose shares are owned by the country. This is a total break of the model of railway ownership and operations that exist at the moment in France.
The dispute in France has been triggered by European Union legislation stating that by the end of 2018, every European Union member state will have to contract out their railway services to private companies through competitive rendering.
Railway workers know that conditions are going to be in a remorseless period of decline if these legislative changes are allowed to come in.
Sputnik / AA Magnum Analyst News 2018.