SNCF trains in Marseille
Photo: BERTRAND LANGLOIS/ AFP
In France, a Christmas train strike could at least be worth something for travelers.
Those affected can have their tickets reimbursed twice.
"If trains are cancelled, there is a 200 percent refund," said Christophe Fanichet, head of SNCF Voyageurs, to the broadcaster France Info.
Travelers could also exchange their tickets for the Christmas weekend free of charge.
However, most trains on the public holidays have long been fully booked anyway.
"I would like to apologize on behalf of the company," said Fanichet.
'A strike during the Christmas holidays is unacceptable.
It makes me angry,' he said.
The reimbursement of the tickets will cost the company several million euros.
Government spokesman Olivier Véran was also outraged by the strike.
"You don't go on strike at Christmas," he told France Inter.
A double refund of the ticket cannot replace a Christmas celebration in the family.
Because of a strike call by the train bosses, around a third of all train journeys are said to be canceled on Friday.
The north is particularly affected, where only every second train should run.
A quarter of the trains heading east are to be omitted.
Fewer trains are scheduled to run on December 24 and Christmas Day.
Strike not organized by unions
The strike is not at the hands of the unions, but a loose coalition of train managers responsible for both ticket inspections and onboard security.
This association emerged from a Whatsapp group and now has more than 3500 members, which corresponds to about a third of the professional group.
The unions have not actively called for a strike.
However, they refrained from withdrawing a strike warning for the Christmas weekend.
The train manager collective had already called for a strike at the beginning of December, which led to the failure of around 60 percent of long-distance trains.
Employees complain about what they consider to be low salaries and poor working conditions.
They also do not want to be represented by the unions, which they believe are primarily concerned with internal guerrilla wars.
According to its own statements, SNCF has already offered the train managers more salary and made suggestions for improvement.