The French Senate votes to guarantee a “minimum strike service”

Senators passed the bill after first reading Tuesday, February 4. transport staff.

The new text would oblige the authorities organizing transport – for example Ile-de-France Mobilités in the Paris region – to define what a “minimum service” would look like and define it as “covering the basic needs of the population”.

Transport authorities would also be responsible for law enforcement.

Existing laws?

There are already rules in place that state that even during a strike, transport companies should aim to provide minimum service during morning and evening rush hours.

The existing 2007 “Bertrand Law” sets out certain rules to avoid total disruption, including a “social alarm” feature that requires workers to attempt to negotiate before being allowed to call a strike. It also requires that a strike be announced at least 48 hours in advance, to avoid the abrupt stoppage of services.

However, the difference with this new bill is that it would give transport authorities the legal power to force strikers to come to work if adequate minimum service had not been provided for three consecutive days.

The new bill also stipulates that strike calls would become void if no workers intervene within five days.

Transport companies would also be able to force workers to strike during their normal hours, to avoid random or very short work stoppages, which limit the impact on the worker’s salary but can lead to serious disruption and challenges. organizational for the company as a whole.

The new text also specifies detailed compensation payments for transport users in the event of a serious disruption to the service.

Bruno Retailleau, senator from Vendée, who proposed the new bill, noted: “It is about recognizing the exasperation that our fellow citizens regularly experience, during hard social conflicts, when they find themselves held hostage.

He argued that a minimum service should always be guaranteed, and said other European countries had a “much more efficient [strike] frame ”in place.

Senator Pascale Gruny said the existing 2007 law is “ineffective when the reason for the strike goes beyond the company itself, and requires the employer [alone] cannot satisfy “.

This is particularly the case of the ongoing strike against the pension reform.

Mr. Retailleau said the 2007 law was “a step forward, but by no means a guaranteed minimum service”.

Opposition of the adversary

The bill met with stiff opposition from left-wing senators.

Socialist Laurence Rossignol denounced it as a “political posture”, while Éliane Assassi, president of the predominantly communist group CRCE, challenged the right-wing Senate to join the initial fight against pension reform, rather than ” address the issue of strikes.

She said: “Join us in calling for the withdrawal of the pension reform bill, and you will see, everything will be back to normal.

Minister’s response

In response to the bill, the Minister for Transport Jean-Baptiste Djebbari declared: “The continuity of the transport service is essential to the daily life of the French and to the economy of the country.

But he acknowledged that the bill was “really in danger of being censored by the constitutional court”, and instead said that in the coming weeks he “would launch a legal project. [on the issue], with a view to formulating proposals within two months, and holding a parliamentary debate ”.

He declared: “This project will focus on the condition of a minimum transport service guarantee, but also on [the issues of] unlimited strike calls, and very short strikes ”.


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