French state rail firm called for files on staff who are active on social media

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On April 17th this year, with the rail strike in full swing, a manager at the busiest railway station in Paris, the Gare du Nord, asked colleagues to create a database on workers who were most active on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Unions have condemned the action, saying they fear the firm wants to muzzle staff involved in the industrial action, while lawyers say the move is completely illegal. The state rail company SNCF, meanwhile, dismisses it simply as a “clumsy” local initiative not connected with the strike. Dan Israel reports.

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It is an embarrassing revelation at a period of tension inside France's state-owned railway company SNCF. On Tuesday April 17th, 2018, two weeks after the start of the stop-start rail strikes, a manager at the busy Gare du Nord station in Paris sent a message to “communications representatives” at the organisation. In it the executive asked them to draw up a “list of agents who are active on social networks” with the aim of creating a database. Yet such a request is completely against the law. The revelation will be seen as damaging for the SNCF as it tries to deal with the industrial action, which is still backed by many workers. Friday May 4th was the second day in the seventh round of quick-fire strikes, and attracted support from 17% of rail workers and 63% of drivers.