CGT unions in France defend temporary workers against government ‘provocation’

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CGT Spectacle (culture sector) union members demonstrate in defence of ‘precarious’ workers

THE FRENCH CGT union federation has condemned as a ‘provocation’ a short term ‘alms’ payment that ignores many workers.

It said: ‘The government announced on Thursday, November 26 an exceptional aid of 900 euros per month for “permittent.es”, many of whose rights to unemployment benefits are coming to an end in this last quarter of 2020. An alms that excludes the majority of travailleur.ses is precarious.
‘The government announced the payment, for four months, of a guaranteed minimum of 900 euros for several hundreds of thousands of “permittent.es”, – these precarious workers live on repeated short contracts.
‘This announcement sounds like a provocation in view of the drastic conditions of attribution, which exclude the majority of the 2 to 3 million precarious workers, temporary workers, seasonal workers, hotel extras, tourist guides, fixed-term contracts of all sectors and all workers without papers.
‘To be eligible for this financial assistance promised by the State, two conditions must be met:
‘1. To have worked at least 60% of the time in 2019 (i.e. 7 months).
‘2. Today, be below a level of resources of 900 euros per month.
‘This 7-month threshold – higher than the 6-month threshold put in place since November following the reform of unemployment insurance and which excluded unemployment benefits from more than 100,000 precarious workers – will leave hundreds of workers behind. thousands of “permittent.es”, especially seasonal workers whose average contract duration is between two and three months.
‘‘‘It is a handout that does not replace unemployment benefit,’’ said Denis Gravouil, secretary general of the CGT Spectacle, at a press conference.
‘Moreover, this assistance does not create any right (in particular to retirement, unlike unemployment benefits, which allow contributions for retirement). This “gesture” of the government is a state compensation paid by the tax, it is part of the continuity of a policy which aims to put an end to unemployment insurance and social protection, managed by the workers. , for the benefit of the charity of the state.’
‘To face the social emergency, our organisation demands:

  • The repeal of the unemployment insurance reform.
  • A new agreement compensating 100% of the unemployed.
  • The immediate increase in benefits of 10 euros per day and per unemployed person.
  • A Christmas bonus of 900 euros for all private employment registered with pole-emploi and RSA.

‘In a separate statement the CGT called for a living wage.
‘The union federation said: The college of economists, commissioned by the government to audit the minimum wage, made its recommendations in a report sent on Tuesday, December 1, to the Ministry of Labour and the unions.
‘Unsurprisingly, he recommends refraining from any “boost” on January 1, beyond the automatic revaluation. Our organisation has long demanded the revaluation of the minimum wage to 1,800 euros.
‘The experts appointed by the government to audit the minimum wage recommend, as in previous years, “to refrain from any boost on the minimum wage on January 1, 2021”.
‘With the context of the health and social crisis resulting from Covid-19, the decision takes on a particular tone. At the end of 2020, the country will have 900,000 unemployed according to Unedic and a million additional poor, while the CAC 40 has gained 1,000 points in three weeks (since the creation of the CAC 40, the results of November 2020 are the best ever recorded before).
It is clear that the same noxious software is
still at work
‘Experts justify their recommendation by “structural reasons to which are added the effects of the crisis due to Covid-19”.
‘In times of crisis, the recession serves as blackmail to keep wages down and “save jobs”.
‘In times of growth, on the contrary, it is a question of “preserving competitiveness” and “avoiding inflation” – so again no increase. “The state does not have the power to increase wages. This must be negotiated in companies,” we are repeatedly objected to. It’s wrong!
‘The state has the power to increase the minimum wage, and mechanically, to trigger an increase in all wages.
‘Elsewhere in Europe, governments have taken this initiative very recently:

  • In Germany, an 8% increase in the minimum wage was decided.
  • In Spain, the government increased the minimum wage by 22%, the largest increase since 1977.
  • In Portugal, the government has set itself the objective of increasing the minimum wage by 25% over the entire term. In 2019, the increase was around 4% and in 2020 6%.

Wage austerity has been at the heart of the liberal system for forty years
‘Since the 1980s, the share of wages in added value has been steadily decreasing. It is therefore urgent to share the wealth and that employees get their due!
‘With the health crisis, the pressure on wages is getting stronger: The government has just invited employers to use the tool of collective performance agreements, which impose a reduction in wages and/or an increase in working hours, on the pretext of saving employment.
‘Message received, among others, at Derichebourg, within the L’Équipe group, or at Ryanair, with salary cuts of 10 to 20%.
‘The recommendation not to increase the minimum wage, beyond “the only automatic revaluation mechanisms” (inflation and the SHBOE) is a message sent to all workers.
‘Our organisation is tirelessly demanding the revaluation of the minimum wage to the tune of 1,800 euros.
‘Meanwhile, another French union federation Force Ouvriere (FO) is fighting manufacturing job cuts.
‘It says: At Vallourec, FO calls on the state shareholder to act to maintain employment.
‘Negotiations began on Monday, December 7th at the manufacturer of seamless tubes, heavily in debt, which wants to reduce, through a PSE, its permanent French workforce. For two thirds, these 350 job cuts can be explained by the relocation of production, in Germany and Brazil. Unacceptable for FO.
‘The respite was short-lived for the 2,900 French employees of the Vallourec group (out of 19,000 worldwide) who have been in financial difficulty for several years. For the fourth time in five years, negotiations on the implementation of a social plan opened on Monday, December 7 at the manufacturer of seamless tubes, which has already reduced the French workforce by more than a third ( nearly 2,000 jobs destroyed) since the 2014 crisis in the oil and gas market.
‘This time, the multinational founded in the Nord department justifies the 350 permanent job cuts planned, by the consequences of the pandemic on the oil companies, which are reducing their orders to Vallourec in the face of the fall in the price of the barrel of oil.
‘However, announced on November 18, in the weeks following the launch of its financial restructuring (Vallourec wants to convert more than half of its debt of 3.7 billion euros into shares), this umpteenth plan has everything pledge given to future creditors-shareholders. The presentation of financial results provided the opportunity: sales for the third quarter of 2020 were down 32% (to 716 million euros), compared to the third quarter of 2019.
FO wants to ‘stop the bleeding of jobs’
‘The new plan provides for closing the Déville-les-Rouen plant (190 jobs) in Seine-Maritime, cutting 130 jobs spread over three northern sites (Saint-Saulve, Valenciennes, Aulnoye-Aymeries) and 30 jobs at the headquarters of Boulogne-Billancourt (Haut-de-Seine). But in addition to the elimination of these 350 permanent positions, there is also the elimination of several hundred temporary or indirect jobs. By December 31, the number of temporary workers working at Aulnoye-Aymeries for the Oil & Gas activity will decrease by 72%, with the workforce going from 109 to 30.
‘Even before the opening of negotiations, the future post-PSE work organisations were detailed by management during an extraordinary CSE (social and economic committee) on 23 November. It has also communicated widely, internally, on its willingness to resort to early retirement.
‘A deliberate strategy, according to Jonathan Caucheteux, central FO union representative, and FO coordinator for the group. “Management tries to minimise the impact of job cuts. And seeks to divide the employees to avoid mobilisations” explains the activist. The FO union is fighting in the inter-union “to stop the bleeding of jobs and maintain industrial facilities”.
Call for the demonstration on December 12 in
Déville-les-Rouen
‘The inter-union calls for a demonstration on December 12 in Déville-les-Rouen against the closure, announced on June 30, 2021, of the Vallourec factory, whose production will be relocated to Germany. “Vallourec continues to withdraw from France, to refocus on Germany, South America and Asia, as it has been doing for several years”, denounces the FO activist.
‘In all, two thirds of the job cuts planned in France can be explained by production relocations.
‘With the inter-syndicale, the DSC FO asks the State to “interfere in the decisions of the group”. The FO Métaux federation, in support of its elected officials and employees, also calls, in a press release, “on the government to take real action so that Vallourec maintains jobs in France”.
Since 2005, some
800 million euros of
public funds invested
‘A 15% shareholder in the group, the state is entitled to do so. In 2016, the increase in its stake in the capital of Vallourec, through the injection of 220 million euros via BpiFrance (public investment bank), was decided by the Minister of the Economy, a certain Emmanuel Macron. “The same year, Vallourec bought a factory in China, in Tianda, for 180 million euros”, recalls Jonathan Caucheteux.
‘More broadly, underlines the inter-syndicale in a press release. “In total since 2005, nearly 800 million euros of French public funds (double capital acquisition and various aids) have been injected into the group”.
A budding relocation in the last PES
‘For the DSC FO, the relocation to Germany of the production of the Normandy factory was in germ in the last PSE that it experienced. “In 2016, Vallourec closed the rolling mill at the Déville-les-Rouen plant, in favour of a German rolling mill deemed more competitive. It only left this factory with the heat treatment of tubes, shipped from Germany at a price of 40 euros per tonne. It is easy for him to say then, during a new competition between sites, that it is not competitive”, comments the activist.
‘He considers that the Normandy plant “has the assets to diversify and become, tomorrow, a player in the energy transition on the hydrogen market”. In contact with the office of the Minister Delegate in charge of Industry, the inter-syndicale did not obtain any assurance. “We are told that everything will be done for reindustrialisation. No, we must do everything first to save the factory!” hammers the DSC FO.
Fears for the Saint-
Saulve plant
‘In the North, a third of the 130 job cuts can also be explained by relocation: the shared services centre (CSP) of Valenciennes should see its “transactional, IT and industrial development” activities transferred to Brazil (45 jobs cut).
‘Another source of concern is the new inter-site pooling scheme. According to the plan presented by Vallourec, the Saint-Saulve plant would see its 20 jobs in “support” services (Management, HR, Quality, hygiene, safety, security) cut. In the future, it would be managed in these areas by the Forge activity in Aulnoye-Aymeries and, for scheduling, by the Oil & Gas activity, also in Aulnoye-Aymeries. “A factory managed by two distinct activities, located 60 kilometres away? This does not bode well, in terms of management and monitoring”, comments Jonathan Caucheteux.
‘He denounces a further weakening of the Saint-Saulve plant, whose rolling mill was also closed in 2016. “If this plan is implemented, Saint-Saulve would risk, sooner or later, to suffer the same fate as the Déville-les-Rouen factory”.
Opening of discussions on the APLD
‘There are four months left to act, the time for negotiations. FO immediately set its red line: no forced departure. “We are going to work on the professional categories so that there is as little social damage as possible, and also work on the conditions for retiring”, comments the DSC FO. On the Forge activity in Aulnoye-Aymeries, where 40 job cuts are planned, a potential of 23 retirements has been identified. There are also 90 positions to be filled in the north within the group.
‘To overcome the crisis, Vallourec is still counting on the long-term partial activity plan (APLD), and opened discussions on the subject on Wednesday, December 9. Here again, FO has set its ambition: to build a group agreement, which would be more favourable than the branch agreement.’