Macron Government Is Mobilising Against Railworkers!

The CGT campaigned against the Macron government’s raising of the pension age vigorously last year and reached the conclusion that France has failed on four international conventions on labour rights. It will be reporting the French government to the ILO

THE MACRON government is mobilising against the Gradual Cessation of Activity Agreement signed at the SNCF because it will allow French railway workers to save a few months on their retirement, says trade union federation the CGT.

The CGT said: ‘The government allows itself to intervene in a company negotiation when it is in favour of the workers.
‘But it remains silent when, for example, the shareholders praise the boss of Stellantis while organising layoffs.
‘As for the far right, it abandons its image of defender of employees and resumes its true anti-union face and hostility to social progress.
‘This early departure agreement, if it is the first, will certainly not be the last. In all professional branches, the CGT acts to obtain similar measures.
‘We were against the pension reform which raised the legal age for eligibility from 62 to 64. We have not changed our mind. The CGT will fight for a return to 60 years maximum.’
Meanwhile, for the second consecutive year, France is on the preliminary list of countries singled out for violation of its international commitments in terms of labour law.
The CGT said: ‘On the occasion of the International Labour Conference which will take place in Geneva next June, the French government could thus have to report to the Commission for the Application of Standards, a body comparable to an International Labour Court, if the case is finally retained on the shortlist of countries which will actually be indicted.
‘In their report published in February 2024 – a veritable directory of recorded cases of violations of international labour standards by states – the ILO Committee of Experts points out France’s failings in the application of four international conventions.
‘These are Conventions No. 98 on the right to organise and collective bargaining, No. 100 on equal pay, No. 111 concerning discrimination (employment and occupation), and No. 118 on equality. treatment (social security).
‘It is on this last basis that the responsibility of the French government should be engaged. A choice which in no way minimises the seriousness of all the cases of violations brought to light this year by the Committee of Experts on the Application of ILO Conventions and Recommendations.
‘These are violations that the CGT continues to denounce, and which did not fail to attract the attention of the editors of the report.
‘Indeed, given the climate of union repression that has been rife in France for several years, and particularly following the movement to fight pension reform last year, the CGT had forwarded its observations to the ILO on the subject.
‘Thus, in its February report, the ILO states: “The committee notes the observations of the General Confederation of Labour (CGT) received on August 29, 2023 and the government’s responses in this regard.
‘“The Committee notes that the observations of the CGT contain in particular allegations of: (i) restrictions on the exercise of collective rights, including collective bargaining during the COVID-19 pandemic; and ii) acts of anti-union discrimination in the public and private sectors in a general context, according to the CGT, of increasing attacks on trade union rights. (…)
‘“In view of the general allegations made by trade union organisations regarding anti-union discrimination, the committee requests the government to hold a dialogue with the representative social partners on the effectiveness of measures to prevent and punish acts of anti-union discrimination. The Committee requests the Government to provide information in this regard.”
‘Despite this call to order from the ILO, it is clear that the government does not seem particularly inclined to initiate dialogue, nor to put an end to its increasingly systemic policy of repression against activists.
‘More than 1,000 CGT activists are currently worried in France, in particular by legal proceedings, for simply having exercised their union rights.
‘This new indictment of the government by the UN body in charge of labour once again illustrates its harmful behaviour and its non-compliance with international labour standards, to which France is nevertheless committed.’
Meanwhile, fellow trade union federation Force Ouvriere (FO) noted that five trade union organisations, including FO, staff in the supplementary retirement and welfare institutions branch had called for a strike on April 25.
FO said: ‘During that day, around two hundred activists demonstrated in front of the Agirc-Arrco headquarters in Paris, where the CPPNI (the permanent joint negotiation and interpretation commission) negotiations are being held.
‘The inter-union denounces the discounted proposals made as part of the negotiation of guaranteed minimum monthly remuneration/ RMMG of the collective agreement.’
‘The employers’ association is making fun of us. For 2024, it offers us a 1% increase for the first three levels of the grid, just to comply with the evolution of the minimum wage. This is largely insufficient!’ criticised Yves Coutantic, head of the supplementary retirement and provident insurance branch at the FEC-FO.
He recalled that in this collective agreement (25,000 social protection employees), the salary scale has been completely frozen since 2018.
Coutanic said: ‘We want an increase of 6% on the entire scale, in order to make up for everything that we lost in six years.
‘While a next negotiation meeting is scheduled for May 24, the unions intend to maintain the pressure to raise the grid.’

  • FO has denounced that in its fourth social plan in ten years, the ‘research and development’ (R&D) sector of the French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi is targeted by a new PSE (plan for safeguarding employment), providing for the elimination of 330 positions in France and nearly 900 others elsewhere in the world.’

Government documents state: ‘Where the employer dismisses at least 10 employees over a period of 30 days in a company of at least 50 employees, it must put in place a job protection plan (PSE).
‘The employer may set up the PSE by collective agreement or by unilateral decision. It is free to enter into negotiations or not.
‘The procedure differs depending on the choice of the employer.’
FO said: ‘This new blow follows the announcement of Sanofi’s desire to refocus on more lucrative research, particularly in immunology, to the detriment of oncology – that is to say research on cancer, the leading cause mortality among men in France and second among women.
‘The chances of success are considered too low by the group, which declares that it is falling too far behind its competitors.
‘Within a pharmaceutical industry focused on the search for profit, Sanofi is known for distributing continually increasing dividends to its shareholders (4.4 billion euros in 2023).
‘The group, which benefits from the Research Tax Credit (i.e. a tax reduction of more than 100 million euros per year), recorded a net profit of 5.4 billion euros in 2023, while the R&D workforce in France have fallen from 6,300 employees to 3,800.
‘Negotiations must begin in mid-May between the group and staff representatives, in order to avoid forced departures as much as possible through reclassifications and early retirements.’

  • France won a record 15 billion euros ($16.17 billion) in foreign investment pledges on Monday, allowing President Emmanuel Macron to bask in the limelight with global CEOs and forget about strained public finances.

The bumper crop of pledges, in sectors ranging from artificial intelligence to pharmaceuticals and energy, were made when Macron hosted business leaders on Monday for the annual ‘Choose France’ summit at Versailles Palace.
This year’s figure is up from 13 billion euros announced in 2023.
The French presidency said the investments included 56 different business projects and could lead to the creation of 10,000 jobs.
Microsoft said it would invest 4 billion euros in France in its cloud and AI infrastructure, expanding its centres in Paris and Marseilles and adding a new data centre in the eastern city of Mulhouse.