Paris train drivers join strike action over Olympic bonuses

Europe © AFP - Emmanuel Dunand
© AFP - Emmanuel Dunand

One in five suburban Paris trains is running on Tuesday as drivers strike to demand bonuses for operating extended rail services during the upcoming Paris Olympics. They're the latest to down tools as workers from a number of sectors seek compensation for doing extra work while the Games take place.

Negotiations are still underway between rail unions and train operator SNCF.

"We thought the talks were dragging on a bit and wanted to provoke something," said Fabien Villedieu of the SUD-Rail union.

A final meeting is set for Wednesday, the day after the strike.

"We have a heavy workload with 4,500 additional trains in August, so a whole range of our colleagues won't be able to go on holiday," Villedieu said. 

Transport operator RATP, which runs metro and bus services inside Paris, has already secured an average €1,000 bonus for those working during the Games.

The most in-demand train and bus drivers will be eligible for bonuses of up to €2,500.

Traffic will be "very severely disrupted" on Tuesday on RER and suburban trains, SNCF said, with certain lines suspended outside peak hours.

Paris regional network, Transilien, has urged people to work from home or find alternate transport.

Multiple strike threats

The months leading up to the Olympics have already been marked by strikes and threats of industrial action during the Games.

Paris garbage collectors last week won a pay rise on top of an Olympic bonus, heading off multiple days of walkouts flagged for later in May and over the period of the Games.

A French police trade union is threatening to disrupt the Olympics torch relay ahead of the start of the Games in July unless officers are given bonuses.

And staff at Paris airports been called out on strike on Tuesday to demand, among other things, "uniform bonuses" for employees mobilised during the Olympics.

(with newswires)