BRITAIN'S MAIN RAIL UNION RMT has responded to news today (Wednesday 29thJanuary) that the Government have been forced yet again to mount a public sector rescue operation on a collapsed franchise – this time Northern – by demanding that the whole broken private franchise model be swept away and replaced by an integrated, publicly owned railway from top to bottom.
Mick Cash, General Secretary of Britain's largest rail union RMT, said;
“Northern has become a signal for everything that is wrong on Britain's broken, privatised railways and the fact that the Government have now been forced to take this action today will open the floodgates towards wholesale public ownership of our railways as other franchises fall like dominoes or simply choose to cut and run in the face of the inevitable.
“The return of Northern to the public domain, joining the East Coast Main Line, should not be seen as a short term fix and a holding operation pending another punt on another bunch of private speculators. This has to be a permanent move followed up with the investment and planning needed to deliver the rail services that passengers deserve after years of privatised chaos.
“RMT will take whatever action is required to protect our members, their jobs and their conditions, caught in the crossfire of the rail franchise meltdown and the union will now be stepping up the campaign for the whole industry to now be brought back together as an integrated, national public service shaking off the grim legacy of 25 years of private profiteering.”
At the end of the year 2016 the SNCF Group decided to sell one of its subsidiaries- STVA (Motor Vehicle Transport Company). In June 2017 the European Works Council of the SNCF Group (SNCF-EWC) started a second four-year mandate with a renewal of 50% of its members. Its Secretary asked for information on STVA, following an article in the press.
STVA has then 31 sites in 8 European countries and in Morocco with more than 2000 employees. No information was given by the SNCF on the number of employees in the countries involved in the restructuring, nor on the offers by potential buyers. STVA was sold at the end of 2017 to a subsidiary of the Renault Automobile Group- CAT.
Management of the SNCF group only provided the minutes of the French Central Works Council of STVA. In the face of such arrogance, The SNCF-EWC members unanimously decided at the plenary meeting of December 2017 to enforce their rights in front of the competent High Court in France (Tribunal de Grande Instance).
On Monday 22 February the court gave its decision and condemned the SNCF for hindering the EWC’s rights to information and consultation.
This is an important victory in Europe for the rights of employees on transnational topics. The members of the EWC welcomed the fact that justice restored their rights. SNCF had the possibility to appeal, however the EWC remains confident on the basis of a strong case.
The SNCF has been sentenced to paid damages to the EWC, the amount remains negligible with regards to over 32 billions € of turnover of the group. STVA had been in the SNCF Group since 1950, it does no longer belong to the SNCF since 2017.
With this decision, the SNCF will have to change its attitude in the future and carry out genuine information and consultation process, in good time as per the EU Directive 2009/38/EU. The decision the EWC’s Representatives took, was the right one and therefore we demand information on the proposed sale- to Blablacar- of the SNCF’s subsidiary Ouibus which operates passengers’ coaches across Europe. A restructuration plan includes 104 redundancies. SNCF must inform and consult the EWC on the conditions of the sale.
The SNCF European Works Council was seized with a procedure of information/Consultation regarding his subsidiary Voyagesncf.com (VSC). LA willingness to The company is to Refocus a portion of Activities in France and to remove in facto 108 workstation in 6 countries (Belgium 41, Germany20, Italy 19, Switzerland 7, Spain 8 and United Kingdom 13).
108 families will then be directly impacted by the major social plan.
We believe that our colleagues of VSC in Europe deserve more consideration. A group like the SNCF must propose better than its competitors because SNCF has the capacity to equip its employees of modern tools, of adequate training To of be In the best conditions to carry out their work and bring the best to customers.
The file developed for the plenary despite the amount of pages (40) is simply disrespectful of our analytical capacity, the questions posed by the our colleagues and the Group's strategic issues in the this sector of activity.
In the face of questioning, the accounting and strategic issues raised by the committee, the management has been forced to propose an expertise that we have accepted.
This Expertise will begin very quickly, so that the Committee with the employees are in a capacity to developing counter-proposals in demanding precise costing in order to put employees in the best conditions to negotiate their future.
The SNCF EWC has been able to establish a strong relationship grace European networks and make our Colleagues are united in their diversities and their requirements. The VSC draft was handed out on 03 May to the Committee (French version), the organization of the visit, the contacts with the employees in 6 countries, require an organization, and reasonable time to de fulfill our prerogatives. We have made a commitment that the consultation will take place before the end of the summer. We call our colleagues at VSC To be in solidarity and send all relevant information to the Committee.
Workers in Britain have organised to stop a scabbing attempt by bosses during the French rail strikes. It’s an excellent show of solidarity with a crucial battle—and the best sort of European unity.
Rail workers across France took the first of 36 planned national strikes on Tuesday. As they began, Eurostar management tried to move engineering and maintenance workers at the Leyton depot in east London to the Le Landy depot near Paris.
Eurostar is 55 percent owned by French rail operator SNCF.
The British workforce contains specialist teams that can be deployed when the weather conditions are particularly wintery.
Workers rostered onto these teams were asked to go to France—with an initial notification making clear they would cover for strike-hit services.
The union immediately organised to make workers aware that this would be strikebreaking. And the French CGT union also angrily raised the issue with management at the European Works Council and began legal proceedings.
The deployment of workers to cover for strikers in this way is illegal in France.
The RMT union put out a statement which was distributed round the Leyton depot. Union reps also circulated the programme of strikes in France so that workers could be aware of potential scabbing operations.
The union now plans to put out CGT propaganda in Leyton. It has vowed to join French pickets with RMT flags and seek to turn back anyone who does try to scab.
Union members are also producing badges for workers to wear around the depot showing solidarity with the French strikes.
Rail workers in France are striking to defend their contracts and oppose privatisation. But their action is part of a wider revolt and a wider fight – to break the neoliberal offensive from French president Emmanuel Macron.
The rail workers launch the next stage of their action on Sunday and Monday. The government met union reps on Thursday but with no result. CGT rail workers’ secretary Laurent Brun said, “Frankly we’re not pleased that we’ve wasted our time here.
He SNCF European Works Council, met in a plenary session this Tuesday 27th of March 2018and asked its President to condemn the attacks on the right to strike exercised in France on21st and 22nd of March about workers sent from Great Britain (Eurostar) and asked by their Management to cover employees on strike at the depot of Le Landy (Paris).
The SNCF EWC President refused to acknowledge and to condemn such actions, even going so far as to challenge the factual presence of UK employees on site.
In the face of such disregard for this body and itsrepresentatives, the Committee decided to give a mandate to its Secretary to initiate proceedings oninfringements of the right to strike.
As this is a transnational procedure, the committee has full competence in this area.
All members left the meeting in protest and give full support to the fight of the French railway workers.
SNCF EWC Secretary
Our committee is, as you know, concerned about what is going on in the world and therefore the impact on people. As a result, we pay a particular attention to the places where the SNCF Group’s employees are present.
At the forefront of our concerns, this has certainly not escaped you, is that the situation in the Middle East is worrying in many respects: the respect of international law, conventions of the ILO, human rights are flouted
In monarchies, practices range from corporal punishment to the death penalty, women are not equal to men, we hear about forced labor and slavery according to NGOs. As for the state that has been colonizing for 60 years, despite international agreements, with the support and recent provocations of the United States, it is a tragedy that risks leading us into war.
The Group's strategy of setting up in these countries must combine economic progress with social progress. Owning subsidiaries in this part of the world, as elsewhere, has a special responsibility and a duty to improve the situation. We must convey the values of solidarity and equality. When you win a contract over a generation, the task is huge.
Be assure that with the help of our international federation and our contacts, we will pay a special attention to the working conditions in this part of the world.
With our European Federation we will launch a campaign to denounce social dumping in transport under the threat of liberal legislation of the European Commission, implementation of the 4th railway package, mobility package. Today some agreements are not respected, in particular the directive 2005/47 or the first results of the study by ETF / CER are more than worrying. The desire in the road sector to expand cabotage (coasting trade), to remove Transport’s employees from the posting’s directive is unacceptable in view of the widespread abuse of employers.
The SNCF Group fits in this context, and we will not go into the game of measuring the most virtuous or cunning in circumventing the laws.
Our group eliminates the accompaniment of the trains and the human presence in the stations whereas passengers demand more service in order to guarantee access to all. The example of Southern shows the determination of a management that has put all means to achieve its ends.
We also question you about the strategy of the Thalys and Eurostar train companies, maintenance strategy whose coherence we sometimes find hard to understand, but we perceive the blackmail to the workload in the depots very well...
A Eurostar social plan which from our point of view should have been the subject of consultation with the EWC. You have also confirmed the merger between Eurostar and Thalys, what are the thoughts:
· Is it a merger, a reintegration, a partnership?
· What productivity gains, synergy do you expect?
· Did Brexit precipitate things?
· Etc ...
Finally do you intend to consult us or will you proceed as with STVA? More generally do you think that this body has a role to play, or will you continue to flout our prerogatives?
Many questions and few answers, after the failure of the purchase of CÉVA, which you reminded us how much this acquisition was vital, the employees are worried all the more that forwarding freight is more and more under the pressure of 7 global shipping companies.
Do we still have the ambition to buy a competitor in logistics and in these circumstances, what strategy for ERMEWA?
...Rest assured we have not forgotten the law on the duty of care because the strategic choices engage the employees and the workers be from SNCF, subcontractors or suppliers. They work for the SNCF Group and bear the risk, too. They are not only active parts of the company but especially the constituent parts of the Group.
The duty of care is the power that is exercised that counts and not just the legal responsibility...
To build its social acceptability, the SNCF Group must be as vigilant in preventing social and environmental risks as financial risks. The EWC has a role to play in these approaches because, as a transnational entity, it can enable SNCF to evaluate the implementation of its international commitments, to ensure coherence between them and internal policies ... It could be associated with the realization of the risks mapping which is the first element of the obligation of care.
Do you wish, Mr president, to be compliant, or do you want to be exemplary, which would give us a comparative advantage over international competitors? It seems to us that this will be a decisive factor in keeping pace with its ambitions in terms of internationalization.
Finally we wanted to finish with what we think is the most important in the immediate future: respect.
If a leader does not like us to observe negative reviews about the company, we can understand it. But that one of our Swedish colleagues is threatened for such facts is an attack on Union rights. We are here to understand, to denounce, to propose, to negotiate and that does not pass by the collective congratulation....