In a dispute that started in October the drivers were protesting against new policies set by state-owned operator RATP that adversely affect both public transport services and workers’ rights. According to CGT-Transport, the unions consulted widely before deciding that the strike should go ahead, defying massive pressure from management.
Many public transport workers helped people caught up in the 13 November attacks. They assisted the evacuation of 80,000 spectators from the Stade de France, taxi drivers took people home for free when public transport was stopped and unions, including CGT-Transport, urged its members to donate blood.
ITF inland transport secretary Mac Urata said: “The Parisian bus drivers' example is an important reminder that unions must continue their fight for workers’ rights at all times, even in the face of adversity. They showed how public transport workers in the front line of terrorism and natural disasters can assist citizens in times of emergency.”
In a statement the CGT explained that the action was over deteriorating working conditions due to a lack of staff (with a shortfall of 1,300 jobs), the freezing of salaries and the scraping of social protection. It added that local government and RATP management needed to grasp the fact that public services are an essential common good and an asset for society – not merely a cost.