Shortages, food scandals and rising prices put French workers on front line!

The CGT union confederation marching for pensions, pay, jobs and the public sector

SHORTAGES, food scandals and rising prices put low-income families on the front line, says the CGT French trade union federation.

While food scandals accumulate (Kinder eggs, Buitoni pizzas, Lactalis raw milk cheeses), which can go so far as to cause the death of children and adults, consumer information and the need of transparency are increasingly necessary.
These products, mainly distributed in super and hypermarkets, symbols of mass consumption, make it possible to create attractive prices.
This measure can jeopardise the health of consumers by not informing them about the possible presence of unreported allergens, or the transition from organic to non-organic.
These scandals could have been avoided if agro-industrialists did not do everything to increase profitability by cutting back on preventive maintenance and cleaning. Profitability and food security definitely do not go hand in hand.
However, on April 26, the government announced, through its Minister of the Economy, the possibility of temporarily modifying the recipes of food products, but without these modifications being made on the labels.
‘The war in Ukraine affects the supply of the food industry for the production of certain foodstuffs,’ said the minister.
These temporary shortages (such as, for example, the shortage of sunflower oil which is looming on the horizon, this being largely imported from Ukraine), force agro-industrialists to replace the missing ingredients with others.
The General Directorate for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) has identified more than 70 products benefiting from these exemptions: cereals, pasta, bakery products, milk and dairy products, prepared meals and savory snacks, a few meats and soups.
The majority of them see sunflower oil replaced by rapeseed oil.
This measure comes in the context of rising prices.
INSEE announces inflation of 4.5% over the last 12 months (5.2% according to the CGT), and concerns in particular everyday consumer products such as:

  • fish (+15.6%),
  • pasta (+10.8%)
  • butter(+28.6) since 2015)
  • fresh vegetables (+30.5% since 2015).

Products that are increasing significantly faster than the general price index, are certain necessary items, such as fuel, liquids, diesel, etc.
These increases primarily affect the budgets of the working and middle classes, forcing consumers to give up overpriced products, or to turn to lesser quality, industrial ones.
It is low-income households that have been the most affected by the price increases of recent months. These price increases have benefited those (individuals or companies) who can store or guarantee their purchase price by contract.
While a minimum increase in the SMIC (minimum wage) came into force on May 1, it is important to remember that the CGT is urgently calling for an increase in wages, pensions and social minima. It is just as urgent to make automatic increases in the SMIC at branch level.
Also, the CGT noted the announcement of the cessation of investigations into the chlordecone scandal.
This powerful pesticide was used in the West Indies from 1972 until the 1990s and continues to contaminate more than 90% of the local population. A petition to reform the deadlines for the statute of limitations has been launched so that this scandal does not go unpunished.
This file could be closed without indictment, the facts being mainly known.
On March 25, after more than 15 years of proceedings, the two Parisian investigating judges responsible for investigating the use of chlordecone in Guadeloupe and Martinique ended their investigations.
‘The case is not over,’ warns Gilles Devers, lawyer for the General Union of Workers of Guadeloupe (UGTG) who is suing the State for serious misconduct.
‘In criminal matters, the investigating judges have done a remarkable investigative job. Their information will be useful to us in civil matters to recognise the responsibility of the State which authorised the use of a toxic pesticide banned in the rest of the world,’ pleads the lawyer.
Very effective against the banana weevil, chlordecone is poisonous to humans. It is an endocrine disruptor and carcinogen which today affects 92% of the 800,000 Guadeloupeans and Martiniquans.
It has long been used in banana farms even though the WHO recognised its carcinogenicity in 1979.
‘The United States had banned it in 1975.
‘It took until 1990 for it to be banned in France, but industrialists and landowners, with the complicity of the State, led people to believe that it was not so serious. They even obtained a derogation allowing the use of this poison until 1993 in the West Indies!’ fulminates Elie Domota, former general secretary of the UGTG.
A few weeks before the legislative elections, associations, political figures and civil society have launched an online petition to ask elected officials and Emmanuel Macron for a reform of the prescription regime.
This health scandal should raise questions about the use of pesticides and the subject of endocrine disruptors.
The creation of compensation funds for victims of chlordecone and paraquat in Guadeloupe and Martinique, open since the end of 2020, is a first step.
But for questions of transparency and efficiency, the management of these funds should not be done solely by the MSA, or the general social security funds, but in a multi-party manner with the organisations of employees, employers, associations of victims, as for the Compensation Fund for Asbestos Victims.

  • After five months of occupation, the employees of SAM have obtained a first victory.

They had occupied the two factories of the Société aveyronnaise de metallurgie (SAM) since November 22, 2021. The action was to avoid the dismantling of the production site, the sale of cutting machines, the dismissal of 333 employees and the disappearance of the foundry.
After 154 days of occupation of the Decazeville and Viviez factories, the metalworkers of the SAM foundry created the conditions for a takeover project.
They now regain hope.
‘On April 25, the liquidators (the agents,) agreed that the factories, the machines and the design office of SAM were not sold,’ said David Gistau, departmental secretary and member of the CGT confederal office welcoming the decision. He added: ‘They signed an agreement to this effect with the State, the Occitanie region and the other local authorities.
‘The conditions are now met for the studies relating to the relocation to the site for an industrial project jointly supported by the State and the Region to take place in the best conditions,’ the Prefecture of Aveyron announced in a press release from April 25th.
Day and night for five months, including Christmas and New Year’s Day, SAM employees have taken turns to secure the premises, maintain the machine centres, the presses, and the melting furnaces, etc. They held on.
For the past week, a security company has taken over, paid for by the community of communes of Decazeville in conjunction with the agents.
‘During these long months of social struggle, and the many gatherings in which more than 37,000 people participated, we always received the support of the public, local elected officials and the CGT which helped us to hold on financially,’ relates David Gistau.
And now? An equipment supplier from the Lot department, MH Industries, specialising in gravity foundry, stamping and boilermaking, has expressed interest and is beginning negotiations for the purchase of the machines.
At the same time, the Region is looking for buyers for the 24,000sqm of buildings.
The agents have given June 30 as the deadline for the presentation of the takeover project by MH Industrie before the Commercial Court of Toulouse.