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The UMP propaganda against train drivers you echo is based on quite some ignorance. So let me tell something as a railway employee (someone in the know) and an non-Frenchman (someone not informed by the rhetoric on the debate in France).

Tell me please, when do you normally get up? I somehow doubt you know what it's like to go to work before all commuters three times a week.

Also, how many people's lives have been entrusted to you, and for how long without interruption? Contrary to the strange image you seem to have from the follow-up comment, trains, especially trams won't run auto-pilot like planes -- responsibility means watching signals and potential obstructions, especially for trams, to avoid killing your passengers (or if possible, a silly car driver) in an accident.

What is the risk in your job of you killing someone, in an accident or a suicide? I doubt you realise the psychological strain from running over people (which, statistically, the majority of train drivers aren't lucky to avoid).

In your job, what is the longest time you have to hold back and not go to the toilet?

You say train drivers' condition has absolutely nothing to do anymore those 100 years ago. As per above, a lot of it does have to do with it. In other things, there is improvement -- say, in the last, train drivers have better buckets; they have air conditioning and no coal to shovel, and a string of safety systems (though they have to know how to drive when those systems break down, which happen).

However, there are enhanced risk factors, too. For one, cars. Trains are faster (and motional energy, which a crash will absorb, goes up as the square of speed). Modern trains have much higher acceleration, which demands better attention from tram drivers especially.

Finally, back to the UMP-French unions battle: from what I know, the characterisation of train driver conditions is a non-issue that is cited to turn things on their head -- it was not that the unions were demanding massive pay increases, but that the government attempted a massive virtual paycut by attacking "privileges".

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 04:50:09 PM EST
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