When over 200 RMT activists marched out of Lille station in northern France on the morning of 13 April they were greeted by cheers from their French counterparts.
They protested outside the European Rail Agency’s (ERA) headquarters against rail privatisation across Europe.
On the day of the Lille protest workers in the SUD union were on their seventh day of strike action over continued liberalisation of the French rail network.
Just outside of Lille is the Somain freight yard, a hub for the entire country where 300 jobs are threatened by the continued dismantling of France’s freight industry.
Across Europe jobs, safety and customer service are being downgraded by the neoliberal reforms backed by the European Union.
This international protest of European rail unions was a direct response the recent attacks on workers’ rights. Flares were lit as the road outside the ERA HQ was blocked for some time.
RMT president Alex Gordon argued for coordinated action by workers from different countries. “We need to show the people in these ERA offices that we are an international movement,” he said.
“They are answerable to the people who work in this industry and the unions that organise them.”
German activist Hans Gerd Ofinger said, “We hope this internationalism will grow from here.
“What we need are united railways in Europe under democratic control on the basis of cooperation not competition.”