Geneva braced for disruption on January 31 due to planned TPG strike
According to an official statement, unionised workers at Transports Publics Genevois (TPG) have voted in favour of strike action for January 31, 2024, after talks between the unions and public transport provider proved unsuccessful. If it goes ahead, the industrial action is expected to bring trams and buses in Geneva to a standstill.
Update: In a joint statement released on January 29, the Transfair and Transport Staff Union (SEV) announced that their members would not be striking on January 31, despite no agreement being reached with TPG. Further negotiations between TPG, the unions and the government of Canton Geneva will continue until March 24, 2024.
Workers vote overwhelmingly in favour of TPG strike
83,9 percent of Transfair and 94 percent of Transport Staff Union (SEV) members voted in favour of strike action at TPG, which is set to take place at the end of January. It follows weeks of negotiations between the unions and TPG over salaries and working conditions.
Specifically, the unions are looking for a salary increase of 1,5 percent in 2024. They also demanded that TPG operators be limited to four hours of driving per day.
Swiss unions raise concerns over working conditions
The unions are also looking to increase the strength of the “driver reserve” from 20 to 77 people - these are workers who cover shifts if drivers claim sick leave or are absent from work. “Today, it is intolerable that we have to call drivers back from their leave to cover absences due to illness or accident. We want real replacements,” noted the president of SEV for TPG workers Vincent Leggiero.
So far, TPG has not accepted any of the union’s demands, with officials instead offering workers a 1 percent pay increase for 2024 and two extra drivers in the “reserve force.” TPG’s offer also includes no mention of maximum driving hours.
Walkout on January 31 set to bring Geneva to a halt
If no agreement is reached, workers at TPG will walk out on January 31. As they make up a large part of the workforce, the action will bring bus, tram and other public transport services in Geneva to a standstill. Services between Swiss cities, such as those run by Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), would not be impacted by a strike.
The action wouldn’t be without precedent either, with TPG workers walking out for one and a half days in October 2022 in a similar dispute over a 1,2 percent pay raise. The action led officials in Geneva to recommend that people stay home on the strike days as TPG could only run a "minimum service". Union demands were met by TPG on October 13.
Transfair head Olivier Hählen told 20 Minuten that they hoped for similar results in 2024: “We hope that the TPG management and the Mobility Department of State Councillor Pierre Maudet will react and enter into discussions.”
TPG hoping for a resolution before the strike action
For their part, TPG said in a statement that they “took note of the result of the vote” and are planning new negotiations with the unions on January 25. While no specific strike notice had been submitted to them yet, the company expressed their “desire to continue dialogue” with the unions so that an amicable solution could be found before strike action takes place.
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