Marie Dupin

The News Personified—a fresh look at the news

A short daily humorous piece on French state radio ‘France Info’

Every morning, the journalist Marie Dupin takes on the role of a personality, an event, a place or a fact at the heart of the news.   

News reports usually leave out historical context, or even any context at all:  bare facts are presented as a bolt out of the blue, with no ‘before’, and also no ‘after’: the media don’t follow up, their only aim that of creating a sensation.  The obvious example is the war in Ukraine, presented as starting in February 2022 with the Russian invasion, with no mention of what has been happening since 2014 and the Maidan coup. 

I am not expecting to hear Marie Dupin impersonating Ukraine to give us the context of the war.  Not all historical context is suitable for France Info, but in the case of the train conductors strike in December 2022, Marie Dupin is one of the strikers and explains their case, going back to 1920, and the 2020 legislation.]

Marie Dupin:

“This morning I am in the shoes of a train conductor.  My status dates from 1920, but it has been modified several times. For the last two years, like all rail workers, “employment with railwayman status” as it used to be called is a thing of the past.  We are now on contract. We have lost our retirement at 57, it is now 62 like everyone else. Lifetime employment and automatic advancement by seniority are also over. But the hard work has not changed: night shifts, more than 30 Sundays worked per year, the obligation to sleep away from home eight days a month, minimum wage salary at the start of the career. The same conditions but without the benefits. No wonder the SNCF is having trouble hiring enough staff to keep the trains running.


And so you are on strike today and all weekend and among the reasons for discontent there is also the opening to competition.

Marie Dupin:

Yes, because we conductors can be transferred overnight to another company, like our colleagues on the PACA line, whose Marseille-Nice line has just been transferred to the operator Transdev. To keep its markets, the SNCF has not hesitated to cut staff: closure of ticket offices, gradual elimination of train dispatchers, you remember the one who used to oversee the departure of trains on the platforms with their whistle.

So who is left, within reach of the public?  Well, it’s us, the 10,000 SNCF conductors, sometimes alone in duplex trains with 1,200 often disgruntled passengers, and that’s an understatement.  Aggressions against SNCF agents are up by 9% this year, yes we had reasons to make this surprise strike which has nothing to do with a surprise in reality, since our notice was submitted at the beginning of November but if the SNCF management did not communicate earlier on the movement it is because it hoped that it would not be followed.


and it’s just the opposite that’s happening

Marie Dupin:

Yes, we controllers should be 80% to walk out this weekend.  It is not the unions that are at the origin of the movement for once, they organized their strike on December 7th but we want our profession to be better recognized and it starts with an increase at the bottom of our pay slip.  That’s why after weeks of exchanges on a Facebook page and a Telegram account we are already more than 3000 members on Facebook and we have created an apolitical collective that doesn’t give a damn about petty union wars.  A movement coming from the field, we are field workers ready to lead a hard strike that could last.

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