By Agence France-Presse
The operator of the Paris metro system has launched an investigation after an outcry over footage going viral on social media showing a female driver being harassed and booed as she defied a strike to start work.
Much of the Paris metro has been shut down since December 5 when trade unions began an open-ended strike against the government’s pension reforms.
There has been a slight improvement in the last days, with some lines reopening partially as strike participation rates have fallen.
The government of President Emmanuel Macron, which has taken care not to provoke unions during the strikes, has nonetheless strongly condemned any intimidation of those working.
The video taken on Monday at the Place d’Italie station shows the female driver being whistled at, booed and physically intimidated by union activists as she walks along the platform to the cab of the train to begin work.
“A female driver was the victim of intimidation from some 20 strikers as she began her service,” a spokesperson for the transport operator RATP said.
“This behavior is unacceptable,” the spokesperson said, adding that the driver had the RATP’s full support and that an internal investigation had been opened.
Valerie Pecresse, the head of the Ile-de-France region that includes Paris, wrote on Twitter that she was “appalled by the violence of the strikers towards a driver who was simply keeping the service going for passengers”.
“No cause justifies these insults and such harassment. Penalties must be adopted, to serve as an example,” she added.
Even some unions themselves said the activists had overstepped the mark.
“It is shameful, it is so easy to target this lady,” said Thierry Babec, secretary general of Unsa-RATP. “Freedom to work is a fundamental right. When there is a restriction, the strike becomes illegitimate.”