with the railway workers, backlighting, smoke bombs and Olympic arm wrestling – Libération

with the railway workers, backlighting, smoke bombs and Olympic arm wrestling – Libération

Accredited to cover the Olympics this summer, our photographer Denis Allard tells how the sun got in the way of the social struggle during the demonstration by SNCF agents to obtain compensation for their work during the Paris Olympics.

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“Because of the strike, many couldn’t come,” laughs the railway unionist at Lyon station. There are not very many of them in the hangar on Tuesday, May 21, but the sound system is loud and the message is clear: the trains will remain on the platform. Rumor has it that they are going to make a mess in front of the headquarters of the Olympic organizing committee in Saint-Denis. We leave in a procession towards Saint-Lazare station and other groups of strikers meet up. Along the way, many are bothered by having to cross unsafe lanes: “It’s not possible, there’s extra media, it’s scary.” In the metro, not too many people, people chat quietly before a woman has an attack of dementia while hovering over everyone in the train. We look at our feet, and the atmosphere refreshes.

“An hour later, we try to lose police officers in the corridors of another metro, and some get lost along the way. Finally, the objective is achieved at the Trocadéro when everyone rushes to dislodge the tourists from the esplanade and deploy a banner “NO JO WITHOUT THE RAILWAYS” with a lot of smoke bombs. Problem: the sun is at its zenith and everyone is backlit. In the smoke, they cough a little and no one can see much of anything anymore, neither the Eiffel Tower nor anything else, so they groan before being surrounded by the gendarmes. The next day, in front of the unions, management almost doubled the compensation offer planned during the Games: no matter the form, only the result counts, it comes down to the mind!”


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