The French railway service was interrupted in different parts of the country when workers abandoned their posts and stopped work for the third day in succession because of a strike over staffing levels, which subsequently caused disruption, leaving travellers stranded, AFP reported on Sunday, October 20th. Services in parts of Paris were disrupted, including the suburbs and other parts of the northeastern Champagne-Ardenne region and the southern Occitanie region, where both Toulouse and Montpellier were particularly hard hit.
The on-site industrial action was fuelled by an incident that took place on October 18th, when a train in northeastern France collided with a truck at a level crossing, leaving 11 wounded, including the driver. The state railway company (SNCF) had to help the passengers, due to a shortage of train staff.
The incident has helped the railway workers’ union to bring the issue of understaffing on trains to light, which explains claims that most of the trains have not had ticket inspectors for a very long time. Ever since last Friday, October 18th, employees at stations have been exploiting their "right to withdraw" their labour in the case of "a clear and present danger to their life or health," not showing up on a busy weekend for the scheduled train journeys.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Saturday, October 20th that the social movement was a "diversion of the withdrawal right that has morphed into an uncivilised strike," and demanded the SNCF "examine all options to take this case forward, including judiciary options," according to Euronews. The French secretary of state for transport, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, later warned that the SNCF could take action against the individuals who took part in the strike.
The authorities announced that services would be resumed on Monday, October 21st.