can the end of the special regimes worsen the staff shortage at the RATP?

Endless waiting times, buses that never arrive, overloaded platforms and metro trains at rush hour… A very gloomy picture that nevertheless illustrates the daily life of several million RATP users. The degraded quality of the transport offer in Île-de-France transforms certain journeys into a veritable Stations of the Cross. A situation that stems from various dysfunctions to which the Autonomous Paris Transport Authority is struggling to respond: dilapidated equipment, recurring absenteeism but also and above all recruitment difficulties. Especially on the side of bus, metro or RER drivers, too few to date. And the pension reform, presented on Tuesday by Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne, is arousing a wind of pessimism.

In question, the imminent disappearance of the special pension scheme to which RATP employees are affiliated and which allowed them to exercise their right to retirement from the age of 52. A special provision which intended to meet the constraints inherent in the job of machinist (work on weekends, staggered hours in particular). But from September 1, 2023, all new RATP recruits will switch to the general system. If the employees already in office will keep their current plan – under the “grandfather clause” – the extension of the contribution period and the postponement of the legal age of departure will apply to them from now on.

“No one will want to be a machinist anymore”

What to fulminate Jean-Christophe Delprat, federal secretary FO transport at the RATP. With Europe 1, he expressed his fears about the future of the board. “Already today we couldn’t recruit, if we remove the last elements that made the job attractive, no one will want to do the job of machinist,” he chokes. According to him, this reform will only increase the obstacles to recruitment facing the RATP and will deprive users of a return to a full transport offer. “Parisians must understand that the quality of service they had before the Covid crisis is over!”, he proclaims.

Worse, Jean-Christophe Delprat is worried about a possible wave of resignations which would cause even more difficulties on the Ile-de-France network operated by the RATP. “Everyone will be affected by this reform. The oldest will be impacted by the acceleration of the Touraine reform [allongement de la durée de cotisation, NDLR] and the youngest by postponing the legal age. And future recruits will not benefit from anything at all. Many colleagues are asking me today to find out how to leave the RATP”, he admits.

RATP’s optimism

For its part, the RATP considers that it is not in a position to express itself as to the attractiveness of the profession following the pension reform. The group, however, claims to have recruited all the necessary agents in 2022 and also plans to hire 400 additional metro drivers in 2023. The management also claims an improvement in service over the last few months while its new CEO, Jean Castex, promised, during a press conference this Friday, a return to normal by the end of spring on the metro and the RER and announced an increase in low wages for jobs in maintenance.

An optimism that Jean-Christophe Delprat does not share. “Given the situation today, it seems very complicated to me. Because to find a 100% offer, there would have to be no more recruitment problems. a little presumptuous,” he concludes. To express their opposition to the pension reform, several unions will participate in a vast mobilization on January 19th.