Jacobin Mag reports:
It has been the riskiest of President Emmanuel Macron’s pro-business reforms to date. By proposing to abolish the employment advantages of tens of thousands of rail workers and to eliminate the French National Railway Company (SNCF)’s legal status as a public company — in critics’ view, the first step toward full-scale privatization — his government chose to pick a fight with the most militant section of the French working class.
The perks for the French rail workers are amazing. They have led to the rail operator having a 47 billion euro debt. Their perks include:
- A job for life – no redundancies
- A pension based on their salary for the last months of their job, rather than the average salary over 25 years like other pensions
- A 10% bonus pension if they have three or more children
- Average rail pension is equal to 85% of average wage
- A retirement age of 50 to 55
- An automatic salary promotion up a grade every three years
- Up to 11 weeks a year of paid holidays
- Subsidised housing
- Free healthcare
- Free rail travel and 90% subsidy for family including parents and grandparents (85% of subsided travel is done by family, not staff)
Amazed they have lost only 55 billion euros!
Yet more than two months after rail unions launched disruptive rolling strikes across the country, vowing a life-or-death struggle, the government has solidly maintained the upper hand. The Senate approved the reform package on June 14 by a 245-82 vote, authorizing the reforms to take effect in January 2020. Labor unions promise to keep striking two days out of five until at least the end of June. After that point, the two most combative rail unions promise to continue strikes in the hopes of swaying contract negotiations with the SNCF. But barring a spectacular turn of events, Macron is poised, yet again, to have his way.