A construction site at the Technicentre Atlantique in Châtillon. Photo credit: AFP/Ludovic MARIN
On Monday, May 16, at the Technicentre SNCF Châtillon-bas, a cleaning worker hired by the subcontractor ONET was the victim of an accident at work and was seriously injured. In a press release, the local branch of the Sud Rail union reports a “ head cut with 17 stitches, broken femoral neck, fibula tibia and left shoulder blade “.
The accident occurred while the ONET employee was picking up trash at the site. He found himself blocked in his work by the cart of another team, that of ” comfort cleanliness », a new team created by management to accelerate productivity. To try to clear the way, he had to move the cart and that’s when the drama happened. The tram found itself in the path of a train heading towards Gare Montparnasse to carry out its commercial service, loading the worker at the same time and crushing him almost completely.
The worker’s vital prognosis is not compromised, but the convalescence will be long and he may have lifelong sequelae.
Technicentre’s management calls into question a ” human error to discard
On May 18, two days later, an extraordinary meeting of the Health, Safety and Working Conditions Commission (CSSCT) took place to clarify the accident. Clément, Technicentre maintenance technician and SUD-Rail union representative elected to this body, says: “ it was outrageous while one of our colleagues was in the hospital all management could say was human error “. The administration would have been content with a ” good practice reminder “.
” It only seeks to find cheap solutions to keep employees working in a dangerous place. explains the union delegate. For him, ” it is unacceptable to try to save money on workers’ safety when infrastructure is obsolete and its reorganization brings an additional danger “.
Degradation of working conditions: “ this time it cost dearly to one of our colleagues »
” For years we have been denouncing the deterioration of our working conditions and the risks we are taking, but management does not care. “, denounces the trade unionist. For him, the management policy of seeking productivity gains promotes the risk of accidents at work.
Indeed, the union representative highlights “ co-activity between different SNCF teams and on-site subcontractors that causes movement risks “. To illustrate, he takes the example of the risks of an electrical accident: Some teams need catenary voltage, others don’t. Therefore, we have to coordinate inadequate infrastructure. All this adds a lot of pressure to daily work. “.
In the case of this accident, he explains that “ management added additional co-activity, separating maintenance operations into several modules to save TGV train movements, i.e. time and money “. For him, it is clear: All management cares about is making numbers behind our backs “. He concludes: ” This time it cost one of our colleagues dearly “.
Subcontracting = abuse! SNCF must internalize all employees!
Furthermore, since the accident victim was an employee of the subcontracted company ONET, Clément raises the question of the situation of the workers on the site: ” SNCF uses subcontractors to reduce costs, but behind these employees they find themselves working in the same places as us, often without sufficient training and above all with more pressure for productivity. This is what causes accidents. That’s why we demand not only that the infrastructures be remodeled and that they comply with safety standards, but also that all cleaning employees are internalized and trained by the SNCF. “.
In any case, while France was sadly crowned the death-on-the-job champion a few weeks ago, this dramatic accident and the management reaction demonstrate once again that, in order to make a profit, employers are ready to put the lives of workers at risk. Faced with the risk of accidents at work, it is necessary to build a balance of forces to impose decent working conditions on everyone, starting with the end of subcontracting and the internalization of all employees.