“Purchasing power is the responsibility of companies” according to the CFDT

In full preparation for its confederal congress, which will take place from June 13 to 17 in Lyon, where purchasing power will play an important role, the CFDT wants to put wage increases at the heart of companies’ responses to fight inflation. The union calls for targeted measures that support the most vulnerable workers.

Should the entrepreneur be concerned with the purchasing power of his employees?

Yes, this matter is up to companies. They are the first to be able to do so. However, if we look at the last ten years, the dividends paid to shareholders are much higher than the increase in salaries. There is, therefore, real potential for advancement, particularly for so-called “second-tier” workers, who are mostly women, with minimum-wage wages and little career advancement.

There is a real wage issue in the face of inflation that we haven’t seen since the 1980s. Also, at a time when employers say they are having a hard time recruiting. That’s why we’re asking agencies to update, because going through the agencies allows us to reach all companies, regardless of their size.

One hundred and forty-four agencies are below the minimum wage.

One hundred and forty-four agencies are below the minimum wage. We also ask our teams within the companies to renegotiate the agreements resulting from the mandatory annual negotiations. What was negotiated in December or January no longer matches reality. Since the conflict in Ukraine, inflation has worsened. But of course we also know that some companies are constrained by the prices of raw materials and energy.

What do you think of the Macron bonus to answer this purchasing power problem?

It is not a tool that answers the current problem. In reality, few companies have used it. Because only companies that can afford it actually do. Last year, payments averaged 506 euros, while the ceiling was 1,000 euros. Raising that ceiling to €3,000 (and €6,000 under certain conditions) won’t change much. Because few companies go that far.

And since this award is tax-free and no-charge, it’s not big in terms of employee social protection. In addition, this bonus is a “one shot”. We can give you one year, and nothing the next. And finally, it is not aimed at the most vulnerable. At the same cost, we could do much better by raising low wages.

Companies are considering other levers… Is funding mileage costs a good idea?

We already need targeted help, we have to help those who need it. The 2019 Mobility Guidance Act (LOM) requires companies with more than 50 employees to negotiate home-work issues during mandatory negotiations with social partners. Otherwise, a mobility plan must be implemented. This device is rarely used.

There is real scope to adopt legal measures, such as generalizing carpooling, modifying company hours or helping with the purchase of electric bikes, for example. Teleworking also saves travel. But actually, what we see in the statistics, and which is quite counter-intuitive, is that the richer you are, the farther away you live. It must be taken into account in the fuel allowance for employees.

The richer we are, the further away we live. It must be taken into account in the fuel allowance for employees.

But after all, what is the employer’s interest in guaranteeing purchasing power?

First, there is a real economic interest that workers can consume. Working for a living and having leisure is better than struggling to survive. Otherwise, the employee will be less available in your head or will look elsewhere for a position. And the company will have a hard time finding someone else, as we can clearly see today. The company has a vested interest in ensuring that its employee stays and that inflation does not weigh heavily on their lives.

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