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French electricity and gas workers mobilize for their rights

21 October, 2021French unions FNME-CGT, FCE-CFDT, CFE-CGC Energies and FO Energie took action on 19 October, to fight back against social regression and attacks on pension and unemployment insurance schemes, as well as to demand higher wages.

The largest company France’s electricity and gas sectors, the EDF, has continuously highlighted employees’ “remarkable engagement” in the service to clients and in the fight against climate change. In a joint message, the unions demanded that EDF put their words into action and recognize the employees’ commitment to the company by recognizing “employees with hard cash.”

In the action on 19 October, unions called on employers to recognize human capital as the main capital, and demanded:

  • Immediate recognition of the commitment of all employees
  • Pay scales take inflation into account
  • Improved sharing of the added value

Also, on the day of the strike FO Energie appealed to the employers representatives in the Permanent Joint Negotiation and Interpretation Committee (CPPNI) of the IEG branch at federal level in a statement to reaffirm their opposition to the draft agreement on the classification and remuneration system offered by employers.

According to the unions, the strike action was a success and employers have agreed to meet the trade unions on 15 November for further discussions.

The electricity and gas industries (IEG) in France includes all companies that produce, transport, distribute, market and supply electricity and natural gas. About 150 companies are part of the sector, characterised by presence of large companies like EDF and Engie that were previously publicly owned.

Employees in the IEG sector do not benefit from a collective agreement but from the Statut national du personnel des industries électriques et gazières, National conditions of employment for workers in the electricity and gas industries.

Negotiations take place in the Commission Supérieure Nationale du Personnel (CSNP), a joint body composed of trade union federation and employer federations appointed by the Minister for Industry.

Unions have criticized the CSNP for allowing employers to undermine workers’ rights. During negotiations in 2021 on national conditions, employers effectively blocked all the workers’ arguments on salaries and avoided debating the matter.

“Energy workers deserve a fair treatment not less than the shareholders of the companies in the branch, we strongly support your demand for higher wages and your fight against social regressions and attacks on pension and unemployment insurance schemes. We wish you all success in your struggle for dignity!”

says IndustriALL Global Union general secretary, Atle Høie.