Pensions. Agreement to end SNCF career: boss called to Berca

Jean-Pierre Farandou called Bercy, an agreement to end his career at SNCF is in the sights
The agreement to end his career at SNCF continues to cause controversy: the latest episode, the summoning of CEO Jean-Pierre Farandou by Bruno Le Maire to Berca so that he can be “held to account”. “An agreement is signed which effectively binds the balances of the pension reform and the financial balances of the SNCF. I was not warned,” said Mr Le Maire, interviewed on BFMTV/RMC on Thursday.

The agreement signed on April 22 by the four representative unions of the SNCF, a very rare event in the railway group, will allow railway workers to end their work before retirement, with more than a year not worked and paid 75% according to categories , which has sparked accusations of abuse of the pension reform carried out last year.

“Two weights, two measures”

The minister summoned the head of the SNCF “in the coming days” to “give a report on this agreement, which gives rise to a feeling of double standards and which is very provocative for many of our hard-working compatriots who have accepted the pension reform.

A language that is the opposite of that of Transport Minister Patrice Vergriete. When questioned on the issue in the National Assembly on Tuesday, he assured that “the taxpayer will not pay a cent to fund this deal”. “Since the state took over the SNCF debt once and for all – 35 billion euros in 2018, there is no longer a monopoly, no more excuses for the deficit. The customer is also protected by gaming competition. This is because SNCF will have to finance this deal internally with increased productivity,” he recalled.

The government’s position was told by his office on Thursday to AFP. To Jean-Pierre Farandou’s call, Bruno Le Maire “is in his role as Minister of the Economy” by accepting the head of the public group, he simply responded.

Early retirement

The agreement between the union and management aims to improve the existing early retirement system from 2008. For example, it will allow drivers “early termination” 30 months before retirement with 15 months of work at 100% pay and 15 months off at 75% pay .

For conductors, whose strike caused massive disruption to trains in the middle of the school holiday weekend in February, the deal is even better as it runs for 36 months, 18 of which are unpaid and 75% paid.

The right immediately attacked this system, which the head of the LR senators, Bruno Retailleau, described as “circumvention of the pension reform”. Even former transport minister Clément Beaune said he was “a bit shocked” because he was worried about price increases for users.

Sharing the wealth

Reactions that drew the ire of rail unions. “It clearly shows that when we are able to negotiate an agreement where the issue of wealth distribution is raised, it presents a problem, especially for right-wing political leaders,” condemned the general secretary of the CGT-Cheminots, the leading trade union. at SNCF, Thierry Nier.

This type of system “exists in other professions too, for example, for truck drivers, end-of-career leave (CFA) allows you to retire five years early. There are a lot of big companies that have it,” replied Fabien Villedieu of Sud-Rail. “SNCF is the most profitable railway company in Europe, so it has the financial resources to absorb these measures,” he says. The public rail group generated a profit of 1.3 billion euros in 2023, after 2.4 billion in 2022.

“At what point is it scandalous that a company decides to manage the wealth it has created,” asks CFDT-Cheminots General Secretary Thomas Cavel.

In addition to his summons to Bercy, Jean-Pierre Farandou is called to explain himself before the Senate Committee on Regional Planning and Sustainable Development next Tuesday to discuss the “disturbing consequences of the agreement”. His future is clouded as he still awaits the renewal of his mandate, which must happen before the SNCF general meeting on May 13.

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