Four RTE strikers taken into custody by the DGSI, the CGT rebels – RT in French

The employees of the electricity transmission network manager were arrested on October 4, being accused of stopping the remote control system of the installations during a strike. The CGT denounces a disproportionate procedure.

The procedure is rather rare in the context of social conflicts: four employees of RTE, the manager of the electricity transmission network in France, have been placed in police custody since October 4 in the premises of the General Directorate of Security interior (DGSI), reported AFP, for having disconnected the “telecontrol” of electrical substations during a strike for wage increases.

The Paris public prosecutor’s office confirmed the placement in police custody of four RTE employees working at the Valenciennes branch, as part of an investigation by its cybercrime section opened at the end of July for “obstructing a system for processing data, computer sabotage, fraudulent access and maintenance in an automated data processing system, as well as for the introduction, modification and deletion of data from such a system”, listed the prosecution to AFP.

If RTE had filed a complaint this summer following damage which would have caused power cuts, a note to employees consulted by AFP does not mention damage to the installations but a “loss of telecontrol”, that is to say that is to say that electrical substations could no longer be operated remotely, for example to be switched off, which “put the safety of the electrical system at significant risk”.

A “symbolic action” without danger for the network and users, according to the CGT

The CGT issued a press release on October 5 to denounce “anti-terrorist services used to silence the salary demands of agents”. Incriminating an “authoritarian drift by the management of RTE”, the union argues that the “local passage” of electrical substations “has no impact on the continuity of the electrical supply, nor even on the safety of goods and people”. The process would correspond to a “symbolic action of taking over the work tool, frequent during strikes”, in no way justifying the indictment of employees “like terrorists”.

“It’s a crazy thing!” Exclaimed Francis Casanova, central CGT union representative, denouncing the treatment reserved for “lambda employees”. Fabien Boucher, union representative of the CGT-RTE du Nord, explained to the Streetpress media that the incriminated practice has a simple objective: by preventing remote control, the command center is obliged to send “a technician to watch this what’s going on”, which leads to travel and overtime. “It is a practice that we have done for at least 30 years whenever there is a social movement and it has no impact on the electricity network. There is no danger for the user,” insisted the trade unionist.

Still according to the trade unionists, only 24 positions out of 369 would have been placed locally in the North of France during these summer actions, and the procedure chosen by the prosecution would therefore be particularly disproportionate, because of this “serious misunderstanding about the nature of the facts “. Francis Casanova denounced “a desire to repress the social movement”, recalling that the conflict over wage increases lasted several months within RTE, without the strikers winning their case.

A rally at the initiative of the CGT is scheduled for 2 p.m. in front of the RTE headquarters in the La Défense district of Paris, in order to demand the cessation of the proceedings against the employees.

The arrest of the operator’s strikers came as a strike call was launched by the intersyndicale (CGT, CFE-CGC, Unsa, CFDT) of the French nuclear fleet for this October 6, again around wage claims. The mobilization could also jeopardize the schedule for restarting nuclear reactors, partly shut down for maintenance operations or corrosion problems, on the eve of a problematic winter in terms of energy.

Meanwhile, strikes at France’s Total and ExxonMobil refineries continue, with fuel shortages reported at around 12% of stations. The situation is particularly degraded in Hauts-de-France, where one in three stations is dry.

RT All Fr Trans

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