French Workers Strike Over Right to Drink on the Job

Rail workers are striking over disciplinary measures for drinking
Wikimedia/Decatur Wine & Spirits

French rail workers held a strike Wednesday over punishment for drinking rum on the job.

Normally employee strikes occur over things like pay or benefits or working conditions, but some railway workers in France held a strike yesterday over the right to drink on the job.

According to The Local, the CGT rail workers’ union announced that it was striking Wednesday due to “employers’ repression” of staff after two workers on Paris’ Transilien suburban route were suspended for two days after being caught drinking on the job. 

The two workers were videotaped drinking rum on the job by another SNCF employee in February of last year. All the workers were reportedly at an informal work gathering at a train switching station, and rum punch and crepes with rum were being served. But in addition to proving that French office parties are better than American office parties, the whistleblower’s video also reportedly recorded a near accident where a train was directed the wrong way and could have run into a train on the other track.

“I guess the rum is going to your head, huh?” said the person filming the video.

“Yeah, it’s strange,” said the controller, who did not know he was being recorded.

Two employees who were caught drinking were suspended from work for two days, but the union says that was out of bounds. According to the union, “no one finished their glass,” and the rum in the crepes shouldn’t count because they claim it evaporated in the pan.


The strike was announced by the SUD-Rail, CGT and UNSA unions and was set to last 24 hours.