CGT fighting for ‘cost of living index’ to be the benchmark for wages

The CGT union federation is campaigning against the effects of inflation

JOB SEEKERS are struggling, says the CGT French trade union federation.

It said: ‘More job seekers work part-time or under short contracts, while being registered with Pôle Emploi. The number of firms going into administrative write-off is exploding.’
Pôle Emploi and Dares have published the figures for job seekers registered with Pôle Emploi in the first quarter of 2022. Job seekers are divided into three categories: A, B and C.
For the first quarter of 2022, category A, which includes the unemployed who have no activity, fell by 5.3%.
This decrease does not mean that all the people concerned have been able to access a lasting and satisfying job.
Categories B and C, include job seekers who have worked part-time or are on short term contracts. These are increasing.
The percentage of category B unemployed (those who work less than 78 hours per month) increased by 2.6%.
The percentage of category C job seekers (those who work more than 78 hours per month) remains at the same level.
On a short or part-time contract, workers in categories B and C cannot live on income from their work alone.
They therefore remain registered as unemployed, while they continue to look for another better paid or more permanent job.
‘There is a transfer game from category A to categories B and C,’ said Pierre Garnodier, of the CGT.
‘The greatest increase concerns the percentage of jobseekers registered in category B who have worked less than 20 hours. The increase in these very part-time jobs reveals an explosion of very precarious employment.
In the third quarter of 2021, only 47.9% of registrants were compensated.
For Pierre Garnodier, this figure ‘confirms all the harmfulness of unemployment insurance. In one year, there are 13% fewer unemployed people who are eligible for compensation.’
Administrative write-offs are up 40.8% year-on-year.
Within the Pôle Emploi agencies, instructions have been given to increase the number of arrests of unemployed people, who are considered not to have complied with their search obligations.
Since the reforms of unemployment insurance, it is necessary to have worked 6 months (instead of 4 previously) to be able to claim compensation.
Many people who have worked for 4 or 5 months, no longer register with Pôle Emploi, because they know that that they will not get compensation.
For the CGT, unemployment insurance must cover all jobless people.
Meanwhile, the CGT has obtained the regularisation of 12 undocumented workers.
It said on Wednesday: ‘Victoire! After several weeks of struggle, the 12 undocumented workers at the Athletes’ Village site for the 2024 Olympics – one of the five main sites – are getting regularised.
‘At the end of January, these workers contacted the CGT office in Bobigny to protest at their irregular situation and asked the CGT union to support their fight.
‘The labour inspectorate, contacted by the CGT, organised a surprise visit at the end of March.
‘A complex subcontracting system has been updated, blurring the tracks. These companies are subcontractors of the client, the GCC Group, a major player in the construction industry.
‘The investigation showed that while some undocumented workers had pay slips, the actual bonus and overtime payments were not made.
‘Being undocumented makes them liable to deportation at any time, and – a double penalty – deprives them of allowances and pension contributions. It is the main company’s responsibility to look at the financial viability of its subcontractors.
‘Today, most of the workers have received a summons from the prefecture to get their work permit. And the CGT has made an official request to the HRD of GCC for them to be hired on a permanent contract, which seems to be on the right track.’
‘The media and political exposure is important regarding the Olympics and has bolstered our fight. It has acted as an accelerator in the settlement of these cases,’ says Hervé Ossent, Secretary at the URIF CGT, in charge of the 2024 Olympic Games file for the confederation.
The CGT statement continued: ‘While the site is a shell (foundations, walls …) it will, in a few months, move on to the finishing work (electricity, painting …) increasing the number of subcontracting companies, multiplying the risk of illegal work .
‘The CGT is delighted with the visibility it has acquired, at a time when the proliferation of subcontracting risks hiding the role of trade unions.
‘This summer, the site will accommodate nearly 3,000 workers.
‘The challenge now is that the 2024 Olympic Games Committee – which brings together the professions most impacted by the Olympic Games – on the initiative of a social charter of 16 commitments, signed by the trade unions (CFDT, CFE-CGC, CFTC, CGT, CPME, FO), by the MEDEF, the UP2P, and Paris 2024, can have permanence on the construction sites, with the posting of information concerning the employees.’
‘It’s a real social innovation, all the more important in that it creates a precedent that can be reproduced in other countries, including those where social rights are less than in ours,’ notes Hervé Ossent.

  • The fight against inflation is here and now, the CGT declared.

As inflation sets in in France (+4.8% in one year according to INSEE), profits have never been so high for CAC 40 companies. Inflation is a powerful indicator of the conflict between capital and labour.
Prices are rising, company margins are exploding, but wages and investments are not keeping up, and the loss of purchasing power is accelerating.
In the absence of redistribution, the workers pay the price of inflation.
Inflation – a general and sustained rise in the level of prices – is evident in many products over the past 12 months, such as; liquid fuels + 84%; natural gas +41.3%, home help services +16%, fresh fish +15.6%, passenger transport by train +13.8%, pasta +10.8%.
Measured using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) based on a basket of several hundred products, it serves as a reference for the indexation of the SMIC, the index point of retirement pensions.
But the CPI is not a true index of the cost of living. The impact of inflation depends on a person’s income. Its consequences are more dramatic for those on lower wages than for those on high salaries. When inflation increases, the loss of purchasing power is greater at the bottom of the wage scale.
This is why the CGT is fighting for the creation of a cost of living index, which by taking into account other indicators (housing, tobacco, product quality, etc.), would give a better reflection of the reality for workers, and would be the new benchmark for indexing.
Inflation is largely linked to the cost of energy. This is affected by the war in Ukraine which limits imports of Russian gas, and the oil-producing countries which do not increase production.
But sluggish supply chains and geopolitical tensions that limit the supply of raw materials and products also affect all value chains and contribute to its increase.
To fight against inflation, the CGT demands:

  • the increase in the minimum wage to 2,000 euros gross
  • raising wages above inflation
  • the return to the sliding scale of wages, linked to the immediate impact of inflation in all branches
  • fixing the price of energy and basic necessities

• the reindustrialisation of the country, the creation of public entities (energy, transport, medicines), so that all our needs can be provided.