aof document

"Note sur la proposition de loi presentés par M. Mamadou KONATÉ tendant a la création d'un cadre unique des chemins de fer de l'AOF" (no date, but probably 1950)
in AOF K 43 (1)

© 1999 by Jim Jones, Ph.D.

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The law of July 20, 1949 made the different railroad lines in the AOF into semi-private companies instead of public corporations. Railroad unions opposed this because they feared that workers would lose out because of efforts to make a private company profitable.

This diagram shows the arrangement of railroad personnel in cadres at the time the Chemins de Fer de l'AOF were created and taken over by the Gouverneur Général de l'AOF.

Category Cadre supérieur Cadre commune supérieur Cadre local supérieur Cadre locale secondaire
Personnel de Direction Tous emplois
Cadre accessible par examen
- - -
Inspection - Emplois supérieurs
(Sur examen de barrage)
- -
Maîtrise - Emplois Subalternes Emplois supérieurs
(sur examen de barrage)
Execution - - Emplois subalternes -
en Formation - - - Tous emplois

(p2) The Decrêt de 19 Mai 1939 reorganized the railroad into the Chemins de Fer de France Outre-Mer and did away with the organization of workers into cadres. It was not implemented due to WWII, but took effect after the war in 1945.

NOTE: According to Birame N'Dour, the new organization included a cadre sécondaire for members of the former cadres locaux and commun supérieur. The cadre supérieur remained as it was. The result was to move the division beween African and European employees into the cadre sécondaire, rather than between the cadre and the auxilliaires.

(p3) The Conseil d'Administration voted on August 28, 1947 to accept the text that created the Statut du Personnel Permanent (SPP). It was initiated on November 15, 1947 during the strike.

(pp5-9) The Decrêt de 20 Juillet 1949 made the current statutes permanent. In other words, if your job was classified under the Statut du Personnel Permanent (SPP) then you stayed there. The SPP assigned workers to jobs in each region, while the Statut Général provided a pool of workers who filled vacancies whenever local recruitment proved insufficient.

Once the operation of the railroad passed from the Gouverneur Général de l'AOF to the Office Centrale du Régie des Chemins de Fer de France Outre-Mer, the personnel governed by the Statut Général were supposed to be transferred to the SPP and the Statut Général was supposed to disappear. The SPP was instituted in response to grievances by African railroad workers, while the Statut Général was a response to grievances of the Cheminots Européens.

NOTE: In other words, workers recruited locally to fill specific position worked under the SPP. Technicians and managers under the Statut Général were European, appointed from Paris, and received bonuses for overseas duty and hardship locations. The SPP and the SG were a way to maintain the difference in pay scale between the highest Afrian and European employees.

There was a difference in the way that the railroad and the government promoted their employees. The government promoted according to seniority and experience, while the railroad used examinations and the ability to perform new skills as promotion criterion. This was the difference between administrative systems: "Gestion administratif" and "Gestion Industrielle." On the other hand (under gestion industrielle), it was harder for individuals to get entry level administrative positions because an applicant needed a diploma, etc.

M. Konaté's law proposal would return the railroad to a system of gestion administratif. The unions understood the requirements of gestion industrielle, but they wanted the administrators of the railroad to be detached from the Statut Général and to face the same sort of promotion standards as the other workers regulated by the SPP.

(pp9-10) On January 1, 1947, the railroad changed from a service operated by the government to a private firm directed by an administrative council (counseil d'administration) that included both public and private members. Railroad workers retained all of the benefits of government employees except for access to Tribunaux Administratifs.

Until 1947, the "personnel supérieur" was regulated by Ministère de la France Outre-Mer and "personnel subalterne" by Gouverneur Général de l'AOF. After 1947, the personnel supérieur was regulated by the Conseil d'Administration and the Office Centrale des Chemins de Fer de France Outre-Mer. Subordinate employees (subalternes) were regulated by the Conseil d'Administration and the Régie des Chemins de Fer de l'AOF.

(pp10-11) What did railroad workers dislike about the change from gestion adminsitratif to gestion industrielle? The Arrêté de 17 Juillet 1946 required the railroad administration to balance its budget, first by cutting costs, then by raising rates. Since 1947, they cut a lot of staff. Other cost-cutting measures included delayed promotions and a hiring freeze. Railroad workers feared the worst - salary or bonus reductions, or even the closing of a section of the railroad. They believed that gestion administratif was less strict, since the government would make up deficits out of the Budget Generale.

The leaders of the railroad unions understood the relationship between the cost of labor demands and the need for new railroad revenue. They also understood the problem caused by truck competition, which was increasing every day. Railroad workers figured that if the railroad administration was ever forced to shut down one or more railroad lines, they'd put more effort into finding jobs for laid-off workers if they were still considered government employees. They would also be more certain that their pension fund would continue to operate.

(pp12-15) In summary, the railroad workers did not believe that the 1949 reforms would create a working (viable?) railroad.

The new form of railroad administration (gestion industrielle) was profitable. Various indexes (number of employees per passenger-kilometer or number of employees per ton-kilometer) jumped by a factor of about 10,000 since 1939. Salaries were up and expenses were down. Cost-cutting measures included replacing steam locomotives with diesel-electrics, using larger capacity railcars, and rebuilding the track with improved rails. Future expenses would require further changes in railroad administration policy, such as improved coordination between rail and road traffic, and reduced freight rates on "produits pauvres" like peanuts in order to increase the overall volume of traffic.

Railroad workers wanted the railroads to remain under control of elected assemblies.

The Statut du Personnel Permanent was the "cadre unique" sought for and obtained by railroad workers as a result of the 1947 strike. The Statut Général was created to fill holes in railroad staffing. The only difference between SPP and SG personnel was that the SG personnel received travel allowances and "indemnités de depaysement" (overseas living allowances).

The system of gestion industrielle worked better. The Conseil d'Administration included representatives of the Assemblée Territoriale, which was enough to make sure that everything worked properly.