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Right of withdrawal or strike surprise... The railroaders have they gone too far?

A social movement that touches the SNCF this October 18. The directorate speaks of a lightning strike. Wrong, say the unions, who say to exercise their right of

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Right of withdrawal or strike surprise... The railroaders have they gone too far?

A social movement that touches the SNCF this October 18. The directorate speaks of a lightning strike. Wrong, say the unions, who say to exercise their right of withdrawal.

It is an accident that occurred two days ago in the Champagne-Ardenne region, which cause chaos in the French stations this October 18. A large part of the traffic is indeed blocked. The reason for this ? On October 16, 2019, a TER struck a convoy exceptional on a level crossing with, on board, 70 passengers. The officer driving, who was alone, was wounded in the leg. Problem: the alarm system intended to alert other trains being down, the driver had to get off, "protect the train" and leave the passengers alone, while he was in a state of shock.

This is not its mission, and this is not the first accident of this type occurs, denounced the CGT Railway workers in a press release on October 17. The union filed a request for a consultation immediately. "It allows each railroad worker to exercise his right of withdrawal when he wants to, if it considers that the security conditions are not met," explains Thomas Gates, head of national Railway workers in the PCF.

When to apply the right of withdrawal ?

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This is a provision of the labour Code : in case of a dangerous situation, an employee may refuse to work, claiming a right of withdrawal. Two cases are possible. It must have a reasonable basis to believe that the situation presents a serious and imminent danger to his life or health, or that he finds a defect in the protection system.

If he decides to use his right of withdrawal, the employee shall alert without delay to his employer of the danger, so oral if he wants to. It may take the agreement of his employer to stop his work. No sanction, nor any withholding of salary may not be taken against her. It is not required to resume his activity until the situation of danger (individual or collective) still persists. The removal of the employee, however, must not lead to a new situation of serious and imminent danger to other people.

the solidarity of The family railway has thus played: the train drivers, but also agents of call have asserted their rights of withdrawal, crippling traffic in some areas.

What is the difference with the right to strike ?

A total cessation of work, a collective will (the appeal of a union to strike is not necessary), claims, professional... These three conditions must be met in order to exercise its right to strike.

The issue of time is key in the social movements in passenger transport. Contrary to what happens in the private sector - where a movement can be triggered at any time, the right to strike at the SNCF must respect a prior notice of five days. Employees must declare a strike 48 hours in advance since the implementation of the minimum service.

Only now, since this morning, the SNCF, speaks on Twitter of the "strike without notice". On BFM, the secretary of State for Transport, felt that it was in reality a "lightning strike". "The SGC denies that the drivers only. However, they lead only in the last ten years on the networks in ile-de-france", he said.

anything To start controversy. "Contrary to what is implied by the SNCF, it is not a strike at unexpected times. It does not exist, is annoying to Thomas Gates. It throws discredit on the railroad."

demanded by the unions ?

The CRT (just as Sud-Rail) calling for the return of the controllers that have disappeared little by little since a year and a half during the setting up of the equipment to agent alone (EAS) and meetings in the regions about the equipment of the trains. In a tense climate, an emergency meeting was held this Friday from 7: 30am to 12pm at the headquarters of the SNCF at Saint-Denis between the management of human resources and the general Confederation of labour (CGT). "If the answers are satisfactory, there will be a resumption of work", stated a union representative this morning.

At its end, the direction of the SNCF camped clear on its position : the right of withdrawal does not. "The company emphasizes strongly that this strike, without notice, is totally irregular, she wrote in a press release published at 12h19. The reasons given do not justify in any way a judgment without notice and irregular work. There is no serious and imminent danger in the movement of trains."

It also offers four concrete and immediate: a dialogue region in the regions which will address all issues of safety and security posed by the drivers, the meeting of a working group of Safety including. "The discussions have started at all levels of the company. This strike is, therefore, of no use, and the company calls for the immediate resumption of a normal service."

Two opposing views

Two views confront each other clearly. On one side, of the train drivers feel that they are at a serious and imminent danger in these trains, from the other direction, says it is a strike that does not say its name. Who is right? "In order to invoke the right of withdrawal, it must be in a situation of serious and imminent danger to his life or health, recalls Etienne Pujol, counsel at STC Partners. It may be true for the railway workers who practice in the same conditions as the one who had the accident. It is less obvious to other drivers as those of the TGV ors RER. If they do it by solidarity, it is more about a situation collaborative, and therefore to strike."

this is A view shared by Mai-The Prat. "Drivers who exercise their right of removal must show that their work situation presents a serious and imminent danger to their life or health. This hazard must be detailed and placed beyond the risk inherent in the normal exercise of their functions, emphasizes the lawyer. Run a risk if they ride in their train?" The general grounds of security - relied on by the unions, seem to be difficult to meet the criteria of the right of withdrawal."

Read our complete file

SNCF : call unit to the strike in Paris on 18 may, against the "union repression" Strikes : the SNCF "not very far away from the billion euros of losses, savings plan in February Strike : traffic improves on Friday, the SNCF and the RATP

The issue is not the least. If the employer believes the right of withdrawal abuse, employees are subject to payroll deduction and disciplinary action. "They should also ask themselves : even if the exercise of the right of withdrawal was reasonable this morning, is it still in light of the responses made by the management ?", pursuing Mayi-The Prat. The CGT felt in the evening these concessions too meagre. "We need to stay firmly positioned on our strength : the massive character of the mobilization and the claims, in particular the very sensitive issue of security of traffic", said she, just before the opening of a new round table discussion at the headquarters of the company.

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