Three of us are travelling by train to Lourdes next week for a private celebration of 50 years pilgrimaging with HCPT, having recently retired from HCPT - The Pilgrimage Trust. HCPT pilgrims are in Lourdes this week so we decided to travel a week later this year, for our quiet celebration.
Travelling by train, which for most of the 50 years with HCPT was our normal method of pilgrimaging there, brings into focus the possible rise of union strife again in France.
President Macron though, has made plain his determination to see through the changes in civil servants and state workers in France. Some suggest that his actions really mirror those of Margaret Thatcher in C20, when she saw through not too dissimilar changes in British state workers practices, such as those of the coal miners in 1984 and 1985.
Meanwhile for ordinary travellers such as yours truly and friends, train travel next week may be slightly hazardous.
The immediate background to the French SNCF problems, is said to be that of workers' rights which include; jobs for life, retirement age of 52 years with a decent pension although that is 10 years before the official French retirement age of 62 a 35 working week and generous holidays. As an aside, the age in the UK at which generally one qualifies for the state pension is already several years over the pension age in France.
Add to the above the fact the fares for passengers travelling by train in France are far cheaper than in the UK, the $50bn deficit of SNCF is hardly surprising.
On a practical basis however buying SNCF tickets is both simple and cheap which is to be commended.
Nonetheless the warnings if probable strike days illustrated below (courtesy BBC) may make for some interesting pilgrimage travel to and from Lourdes:
Hopefully more next week from Lourdes.