They intend to denounce the degradation of working conditions and obtain wage increases comparable to inflation… RATP employees will be on strike this Thursday, November 10, with the objective: “Zero metro, zero RER”. But while the social situation is tense, many Parisian transport users are already wondering if the strike did not start several weeks ago, as the circulation of the metros and buses seems to be reduced. When the former Prime Minister, Jean Castex, is auditioned by the National Assembly and the Senate on Tuesday and Wednesday, in order to become the next boss of the RATP, the situation within the only operator of public transport in Paris and its suburbs appears, as the saying goes, “strongly disturbed”.

At the start of November, 26% of the scheduled buses are not running in Paris. A figure that angers the Ile-de-France region. Its president, Valérie Pécresse, summoned the RATP to explain this observation, which provokes “the anger of travelers”. Among the justifications for a problem of which the company claims to be “aware”, is mentioned the shortage of drivers. Today, 400 are missing to provide full service. A finding which is not new since the Court of Auditors reported, in January 2021, “real difficulties in recruitment for the operator professions”. To facilitate recruitment, the Ile-de-France region has promised a bonus of 2,000 euros to job seekers who follow training to become a driver. It will also open a CAP dedicated to this profession, until now reserved for people over 25 years old. But this lack of personnel cannot explain everything, and it is also towards the employees in post that we must turn to understand the whole problem.

First, the Ile-de-France region notices “a rise in absenteeism”, which has become too important not to be suspicious. Indeed, Valérie Pécresse notifies “500 fraudulent work stoppages”, 130 of which should lead to the dismissal of the persons concerned. Add to that the 300 officers in isolation due to their vulnerability to Covid-19 who have not been reinstated, and 800 employed drivers are already missing. It is also necessary to mention this tendency to “the strike of 59 minutes”, acclaimed by the employees. It has the double advantage of not lowering the salary too much while considerably disrupting traffic.

Underground, the situation is no better. Travelers pile up on the platforms of the metro, desperately waiting for the arrival of a train, sometimes for almost ten minutes. Here too, the RATP mentions a lack of drivers, around a hundred. Moreover, the service of certain lines is only guaranteed at 80%. According to Le Parisien, “only four metro lines, 7,9,13 and 14 are now at 100% capacity”. A reduced offer born of the health situation and a desire to save money. This train limitation device was extended on October 11, 2021 by the board of directors of Ile-de-France Mobilités, the transport regulatory authority, preventing the return to the level of service of 2019. This Sunday, Valérie Pécresse nevertheless asked the RATP to “return to 100% of the offer before Covid”. A necessity, when you know that the navigo pass, currently at 75 euros per month, should exceed 90 euros in 2023 due to the rise in energy prices.

The lack of drivers and the poor relationship between employees and management do not, however, encourage us to believe in a rapid return to normal. In Le Figaro, Pascal Auzannet, former manager of one of the most important subsidiaries of the RATP, remembers “the brutal management” of Catherine Guillouard, appointed head of the Régie in 2017, and her obsession for “the maximization of profit”. But the RATP is not the only one to be singled out. This is also the case for the region. This Tuesday, in a press release, the left-wing opposition groups of the National Assembly asked the Defender of Rights to look into the situation of public transport, the deterioration of which is the result, according to them, of ” several decisions taken by Ile-de-France Mobilités and its president, Valérie Pécresse”.