French rail workers say: end the silence on worker suicides! The bosses are to blame!

Posted in Off The Rails's blog on Mon, 27/03/2017 - 19:54,

Off The Rails has translated statements from the SUD-Rail union in France, part of the Solidaires union federation.

As readers will see, it deals with a sensitive subject: the recent suicide of one of their comrades. SUD say it is time for rail workers to break the "omerta", the code of silence, around worker suicides. They point the finger of blame at the bosses, and their daily acts of repression, harassment, and victimisation against workers, particularly union activists.

We reproduce the texts, without further comment, and express our condolences to Édouard's family, friends, and comrades, and our solidarity with our brothers and sisters in France.

Translated from articles available online here and here.

Speak out to break the code of silence on suicide

Édouard, a Sud-Rail activist and rep who took his own life after daily harassment from his employer, is the latest victim of the policy of anti-union repression at SNCF, the state-owned railway company.

Nearly 2,000 supporters met on 15 March at the Saint-Lazare railway station to pay tribute to our union militant comrade and to demand justice from the company which breaks lives in the name of productivity and its anti-union policy.

The SUD-Rail Federation, the Solidaires union, and the wider labour and social movements refuse to remain silent and will fight on to ensure that the responsibility of the SNCF company and its management [for Édouard's death] is recognised.

Union activists have been called hooligans and terrorists, and, for one ripped shirt [this refers to an incident at Air France in 2015, where a boss's shirt was ripped in a confrontation with protesting workers], criminally prosecuted, receiving a suspended prison sentence; meanwhile, our bosses practise discrimination, repression, and killing with impunity.

Those who resist, who refuse to accept rail workers suffering the full effects of the disastrous policy of [SNCF boss Guillaume] Pepy and others, face unfair pressure, harassment, and sanctions.

In just two weeks, there have been four deaths at SNCF, of which Édouard was one: three suicides and one accident at work. And when, on 17 March, Audrey Vernon, a journalist at France Inter, on March 17, dares to raise the issue on air, the broadcast is censored. (To listen to the uncensored version, go to the SUD-Rail site here.)

Suicides at work are frequent and numerous, not only at SNCF: there have been two suicides inone month in the health sector (more information here and here). More widely, around 1,200 workers die every year in France due to accidents at work, occupational illnesses, or work-related accidents. More than 20,000 women workers have been killed as a result of work since 2000 (see here for more info).

SUD-Rail demands the immediate cessation of dozens of disciplinary proceedings against its members and activists, and the cancellation of sanctions and dismissals delivered by the SNCF management "courts".

Those responsible for the death of Édouard must be condemned!

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