Sandy Conin, train driver, trade union activist at Sud Rail and feminist, in Vendres to tell her story

Sandy Conin, train driver, trade union activist at Sud Rail and feminist, in Vendres to tell her story

Sandy Conin (première à gauche), est venue témoigner de son parcours militant : syndicaliste et féministe. ANTONIA JIMENEZ – Midi Libre

Alongside   Mireille Guibert (Snes FSU), Claire Bonavitacola (CGT La Poste) and Magalie Caldie (CGT Hôpital de Béziers), Sandy Conin participated in the evening of meeting-debate, moderated by Richard Vassakos, deputy mayor of Vendres, in the framework of the "Knowledge Cooperative" organized Wednesday March 6, at the village town hall. 

After the one dedicated to women in viticulture organized last year, the 2024 edition of the meeting evening – debate this Wednesday, March 6, at the town hall of Vendres, set up in within the framework of a new "Knowledge Cooperative", had the theme "Women and union activists".

Under the aegis of Richard Vassakos, the deputy mayor Jean-Pierre Pérez, delegate for culture and citizenship, four women came to testify to this who they are, their struggle, their joys and their difficulties: Mireille Guibert (Snes FSU), Claire Bonavitacola (CGT La Poste), Magalie Caldie (CGT Hospital)   and Sandy Conin (Sud Rail). Four feminist paths for one and the same fight: trade unionism. That of Sandy Conin, however, deserves a special spotlight.

A woman in a man's world

The activism of the woman who has now been, for two years, manager of train schedules began 24 years ago. That of a woman in a world of men ? "Even if I don't like this image, yes, we can say it, in my early days as well as still today' ;#39;today, unfortunately." She then recounts her beginnings, in 2000, working as controllers at Béziers station. "We were 4 women out of 120 controllers. It was difficult, especially with former colleagues, to find one's place, and even with travelers, who were sometimes aggressive towards the girls. It was easier to go to war with a woman, they must have thought. Wrongly…"

With assertive words and eyes, Sandy Conin did not let it happen. She imposes herself, finds her place. At the same time, in 2006, she launched into the union fight within Sud Rail. "There were a few more women than at work. Fortunately, male trade unionists were already feminists. So I had good support from them." 

12 students, the only woman…

After 15 years as a controller in Béziers, she decided to become a train driver. "I went to train at school, near Tours. Out of 12 students, I was the only woman. Not easy. Even the trainer allowed himself serious and heavy jokes. Surrealistic."

Sandy gets her exam. She drove trains for four years, based in Lyon. "The only conductor for 280 conductors." It'was in 2016, just 8 years ago… "But I was well received by my colleagues because they were happy that the profession is becoming more feminized, finally." She continues: "The difficulties, I encountered them especially with travelers and other agents of the SNCF who had difficulty accepting a woman driving trains."

In 2020, wanting to get closer professionally to her hometown, Béziers, she decided to request a transfer. "But I didn't get it. To do this, I had to give up a job that I love, a driver, to become an agent in charge of train schedules. I work at Montpellier station."

Unionism, Sandy, secretary of the Sud Rail Languedoc-Roussillon union from the beginning, never let go, & quot;a social fight, but also an environmentalist, anti-fascist and feminist one. Because we must continue to fight against salary inequalities and break down the glass ceilings. Too few women at SNCF are in management positions."

Sandy Conin is also part of the Rosies, feminist activists who will “dance”, this Friday, March 8, during the parade which will leave at 10:30 a.m. from the Labor Exchange, in Béziers, to mark National Rights Day women. 

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