Date: 31st January 2023
Workers of the French state railway utility SNCF are on strike. The strike started on Monday 30 January at 7 pm local time and runs until Wednesday, 1 February 6 am. It is expected to have a severe impact on rail operations, including rail freight.
Industrial action has been called by labour unions representing a broad range of public and private sector staff to protest against state pension reform which will extend the statutory retirement age from 62 to 64.
It is the second strike in less than a fortnight as unions seek to put pressure on the government to back down. The previous stoppage on January 19 saw an estimated 1 million people stage demonstrations across the country in opposition to the reform.
“We are expecting to be heavily impacted by this strike along with all rail freight operators,” the sales and marketing director at SNCF subsidiary, VIIA, told Railfreight.com. He added that the company was waiting to see whether there will be a call to prolong the strike beyond February 1.
Viia operates an extensive weekly programme of intermodal services, which comprises Bettembourg (Luxembourg)-Le Boulou (Perpignan) with 22 round trips; Bettebourg-Barcelona (5 round trips); Calais-Le Boulou (10 round trips); Calais-Macon (5 round-trips); Sète-Calais( 3 round-trips); and Sète-Paris (3 round-trips).
The strike is also set to hit private rail freight operators as France’s rail network manager is staffed by SNCF Réseau personnel. Dock workers are also supporting the industrial action, which means rail freight shipments handled at French ports could also be affected.