French CGT union announces ‘spring of struggles’ Workers take to the streets against evictions

CGT banner on a demonstration in Paris during the February 5th general strike

FRANCE’S major trade union confederation, the CGT, has announced a ‘spring of struggles and has called for ‘joint action between the different professions in struggle’.

There were demonstrations and protests throughout France last Saturday against evictions.
The annual winter ban on tenant evictions has been extended from March 31 to June 1st as pandemic economic effects have seen eviction warnings doubled.
The government said the move is to ‘keep vulnerable people in their homes’.
It will also repay landlords for unpaid rent but protesters are demanding the ban continues for at least a year.
Despite the health situation, in addition to media workers who are currently occupying more than 70 performance venues, many employees with CGT organisations, are mobilised in companies and services.
All of them act for the maintenance and development of employment, for their conditions and protections at work, for the meaning of their missions, for salary increases.
They demand stable employment and fight against the generalisation of precariousness.
These mobilisations, with different modalities of action, feed off each other.
In the territories, convergences are organised.
And victorious struggles encourage the commitment and determination of those in progress.
Dates of professional mobilisations are programmed by several federations.
Retirees will be in the streets today, March 31, at the call of several organisations, for the revaluation of retirement pensions, access to care, including vaccination and to demand the maintenance and development of public services.
The CGT called on its organisations to expand this proliferation of actions by ensuring that employees are fully involved in their organisations and by working on demands for convergences between the different professions in struggle in the same workplace, in the same pool of workers employment.
In a letter addressed to the organisations, on March 26, the Confederal Directorate calls on them to bring together the unions locally to organise the conditions for bringing together employees from different professional fields by sharing their demands and their modalities of action.
To open the debate and build alternatives with employees, the confederation has published a 4-page link on its website entitled: ‘For employment, let’s impose another logic’.
This tool compiles CGT proposals for the defence of employment, for wage increases, the reduction of working hours, the development of industry and the strengthening of public services. It is available in all CGT departmental unions.
Each initiative in this spring’s mobilisation and the commitment of activists in the TPE electoral campaign are points of support for building and amplifying the mobilisations in order to build a new day of actions, including the annual meeting of struggles on May 1st.
Meanwhile, the CGT has warned that a bill presented by the Republicans in the Senate is a new plan for the destruction of Social Security.
The Republicans of the Senate group presented, on March 25, 2021, a proposed organic law ‘tending to strengthen the financial management of Social Security and to guarantee the sustainability of social accounts’.
The government majority in the National Assembly is also preparing, for its part, the same type of organic law proposal.
Behind the stated objective of strengthening Parliament’s control over social finances, it is, in reality, a particularly brutal attack on Social Security and its management by the insured persons.
This Senate bill provides, in its article 1, to integrate the management of Unemployment Insurance – which is a joint management scheme – into the social security financing laws.
It would therefore be the Parliament which, on a proposal from the government, would set, each year, the parameters for calculating the allowances of job seekers, as well as the base and the level of its resources.
Unemployment insurance – which is an insurance scheme guaranteeing a replacement income based on activity remuneration – would become a system based on assistance which would no longer guarantee the unemployed more than a minimum.
This bill also lays down the principle of a ‘golden rule’ for balancing social finances.
Inspired by a provision in the bill aimed at instituting a universal pension scheme, this project provides that the financial balance of Social Security, including loss of autonomy, unemployment insurance and the old age solidarity fund, should be balanced over a period of five years.
In concrete terms, spending would not be set on the basis of needs but on the basis of the revenue objective set by the government, in particular based on its objective of reducing compulsory levies.
Concretely, this would translate into lower pensions and a health insurance spending target aimed at meeting this revenue standard.
In terms of health insurance, it is this policy that is the source of the closures of hospital beds with the consequences that people are experiencing in the current health crisis.
For the CGT, this bill is totally unacceptable.
It is totally opposed to its conception of an integral, united, universal and democratic social security, covering all social risks including unemployment, with 100% financing by social contributions, that is to say the socialised salary.
Achieving this goal does not require a so-called ‘golden rule’ but by an ambitious reform of the financing which implies the questioning of its taxation and to begin the elimination of the 90 billion euros of exemptions from which employers benefit.
The CGT is deeply attached to these values of solidarity and universality, but also of social democracy based on the management of funds by elected representatives of the insured persons.
The CGT will do everything in its power to thwart this new attempt to break Social Security.

  • Yves Veyrier, secretary general of sister trade union federation Force Ouvriere (FO), has again addressed the Prime Minister and the Minister of Labour to ask them to abandon the implementation of the unemployment insurance reform and to maintain the provisions of the agreement which had been negotiated in 2017.

He warned that it is estimated that more than a million employees seeking jobs (1.15 million) would see their allowance reduced by 17% on average from next July.
FO insists all the more since the current context sees the Covid-19 pandemic prolonging the economic crisis and its social consequences, in particular in terms of job losses, and delaying a resumption of activity is likely to increase the precariousness of many jobs.
In this regard, FO protested against the fact that this reform would lead to the volume of ‘savings’ that the government intends to achieve on job seekers (more than two billion euros in a year).

  • In a global show of solidarity, the Teleperformance Trade Union Alliance issued the following statement in support of workers who went on strike in Tunisia, France and Morocco on 24 and 25 March.

‘Teleperformance has profited during the pandemic. The Paris-based contact centre giant has seen record revenue, ballooning executive compensation, and sharply climbing stock prices.
‘Unfortunately, the company has not shared its prosperity with the workers who have sacrificed to keep the company successful during Covid-19. That is why workers in Tunisia, France, and Morocco have no other choice than to take action.
‘In Tunisia, by far the largest country in Teleperformance’s French speaking operation, the roughly 8,500 workers make a monthly base salary of 230 euros – not enough to afford rent and food for many.
‘Despite this poverty wage, Teleperformance has offered a zero per cent pay increase to its Tunisian workforce. Along with a nearly six per cent inflation rate, this stagnation amounts to a pay cut for workers who are already earning a subpar salary.
‘In France, where many Teleperformance employees earn around the monthly minimum salary, the company is not offering a pay rise at all.
‘Thousands of these employees are essential to the nation’s Covid-19 recovery, as they help schedule vaccinations, and some are having to use their own equipment to do their jobs from home.
‘The company’s shameful stinginess with workers sharply contrasts with the lavish compensation of CEO and President Daniel Julien. He stands to receive a four million euros pay rise – to 17 million – if approved by investors. This is one of the highest pay packages in the CAC40.
‘The UNI Teleperformance Trade Union Alliance calls on clients of Teleperformance and its large clients in these countries – Amazon France, Orange, SFR, Free, Canal+, the French government Covid vaccination service – to ensure that workers make a living wage, that they are rewarded for their dedication during the pandemic, and that they are not disciplined for exercising their trade union rights.’
Trade unions which participate in the strike action were UGTT (Tunisia), CGT (France) and FO (France) and UMT in Morocco. Also participating in the strike was French union SUD.
The French action is part of sectoral push to raise standards across companies, with strike action taking place at other companies such as Sitel and Comdata.
French company, Teleperformance is the largest contact centre employer globally, employing more than 380,000 workers in 80 countries.