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(en) France, UCL AL #330 - Trade unionism, Social and Economic Committee: Social dialogue in difficulty (ca, de, it, fr, pt, tr)[machine translation]

Date Sat, 24 Sep 2022 10:14:50 +0300

The Macron ordinances of September 2017 merged the three main personnel bodies into a single entity, the social and economic committee (CSE). This " simplification " has resulted in a significant overload of the work of the delegates whose missions take them away from the realities on the ground. ---- In September 2017, the Macron ordinances on the Labor Code put an end to three staff representation bodies, created in 1936 - staff delegates (DP) -, in 1945 - works councils ( CE) and 1982 - health, safety and working conditions committees (CHSCT). They have now been brought together in a single body: the social and economic committee (CSE). ---- Social dialogue unionism is worried ---- The consequences of these ordinances are radical: the staff representatives, now fewer in number, are overwhelmed by the increase in the subjects to be dealt with. This work overload is also increased by the overall drop in delegation hours.

In addition, the disappearance of the CHSCT tends to reduce the place of questions on safety and working conditions in the action of elected officials. Finally, the local representatives (PR) who can be installed do not manage to replace the functions of the staff representatives. This leads to a decline in individual and collective complaints. All of these trends contribute to distancing elected staff members from other employees.

An initial assessment of the 2017 ordinances was carried out with 245,000 companies with more than ten employees[1]. Thus, the proportion of companies with a union representative is constantly falling, whereas it was stable between 2012 and 2018. The same is true for that of companies with a staff representative body.

Even the CFDT, which had approved the Macron ordinances, finds that it is itself in difficulty in its position as a social dialogue union. In 2022, it sent eleven proposals to the Ministry of Labor to reform their content, without calling into question the existence of the CSE. One of its national secretaries[2]expressed his "great fears about the ability of trade unions to renew the CSEs", because "the mandate of elected staff representative at the CSE is not attractive".

Researchers have concluded in the same[3], highlighting several elements. Their work indicates in particular that the PR mandate has not received a significant echo in companies, and that it has been little invested.

The issue of proximity between staff representatives and employees is an issue for social dialogue trade unionism. But it is also so for the trade unionism of struggle. For him, staff representation is not the main place of trade union activity. However, it is a limited but useful tool for mobilizing employees.

Even before the creation of the CSE, several negative trends existed. The mandate of DP, the closest to the staff, was losing its importance. Works Council members were already drowning in the excessive agendas of meetings, the latter monopolizing all their union time. The proliferation of works councils covering a vast geographical area was already contributing to keeping elected officials away from contact with their colleagues.

Large companies had also created various and varied bodies for consultation, thus multiplying the meeting times. The delegates were already obligated to go there in order to have " all the information ", very often in the context of inter-union competition, including between wrestling unions !

What reaction from the trade unionism of struggle?
All this is known and is regularly expressed in union meetings. While some of these excesses are the result of an employer strategy, others are the consequence of the practices of struggle unionism itself. It is up to him to counter this strategy which tends to integrate him into the social dialogue.

The CFDT, the very expression of social dialogue unionism, is very far from being a mass union. It has however become, twice in a row, the union most voted by employees.

Hasn't the time come to put on the agenda this question of staff representation bodies, their meaning and their limits for militant trade unionism?


Has our struggle unionism really taken into account what this trend means? Do some of its practices and the image it sends back to employees outline a clear alternative to social dialogue ? Does the place of the CFDT (with which it is possible to associate CFTC, UNSA and CFE-CGC), in a context of general weakening of trade unionism in France, really reflect support for the type of trade unionism by this structure?

Hasn't the time come to put this question of staff representation bodies, their meaning and their limits for militant trade unionism, on the agenda of general assemblies and trade union congresses?

Content of union training, links of elected personnel to the activity of their union and their local union, the problem of the professionalization of unionists, union practices in CSEs : the list is long of topics to be debated on the merits.

It is time to take courageous decisions to refuse the poison of social dialogue and everything that tends to lead to it, thus contributing to building and making visible a clear strategy of mass trade unionism, struggle and class.

Michel (UCL Vosges)

It is a trade unionism of accompaniment, of systematic search for common ground with the boss, of a give-and-take. Overall, he accepts the setbacks requested by the employer, in return, possibly, for crumbs for the employees. It focuses on action and presence in staff representation institutions. It aims above all to avoid mobilization and the balance of power, without sometimes refusing to participate in it. But to play this role in the workplace, he needs a certain legitimacy. It needs the means to ensure that the aspirations of employees and their anger are heard, then channeled and watered down by being brought back to the CSE. It is a question of making the latter play the role of delegation of power. In France, the most important trade union organization for social dialogue is the CFDT.

To validate

[1]Results n°32, Dares, July 12, 2022.

[2]Interview with Philippe Portier in Semaine Sociale Lamy n°2007, July 4, 2022.

[3]Interview with Cyril Wolmark in Semaine Sociale Lamy n°2000, May 16, 2022.

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