Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Special Regime for Railway Workers

Five railway unions, including the CGT and FO, are now calling for a strike on October 17 to protest the reform of the railway workers' special retirement regime. Three unions, including the CFDT, have not committed themselves.

Here are some facts relevant to the claims of a special status for railway workers. In 2005, the SNCF employed 168,000 workers, of whom 17 percent were women. The average age was 40. The frequency of workplace accidents of all levels of severity was just under 33 per thousand workers.

By contrast, in the private sector, for workers of all types covered by the general regime, the frequency of workplace accidents was just under 27 per thousand workers. For workers in construction and public works, however, the rate was more than twice as high, at 56 per thousand, considerably higher than the injury rate for railway workers as well.

The SNCF employs workers in more than 150 different trade specialties. Many are in clerical positions, work indoors, and have no contact with heavy equipment or rolling stock. The railroads have changed a good deal since Zola wrote La Bête humaine (and since Renoir filmed it).

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