ECONOMY: The employees of the Hambach plant have accepted they have to work more without earning more at the end of a vote …
Work more without earning more. Workers at the Smart plant in Hambach (Moselle) have accepted this principle to avoid the relocation of their factory. Since Saturday, and despite the opposition of the majority unions, employees will work 39 hours but be paid for just 37 hours. This is the result of a consultative referendum voted a year ago and which had divided the staff.
“We were 37 hours already, and we move to 39 hours from the 1st October,” said Jean-Yves Schmitt, communications director of the factory. “At the first change, from 35 hours to 37, there was a raise in our salary, but not this time,” he added.
Although the measure is effective from Friday, September 30th at midnight, it will actually be from Monday morning that it will in fact be adopted by the workers. Other measures, such as a reduction in days off – will, be set up in early 2017.
A long standoff between management and unions
These changes are the result of a long tug-of-war between the plant management and the unions, amid threat of relocation, piped “deleterious” according to unions and working anti-movement.
September 11, 2015, the “Pact 2020” had been subjected to a purely advisory company referendum but had attracted great media interest and many political comments.
The promise not to make any redundancies
The “Pact 2020” provides a transition to 39 weekly hours, before a return to the 37 hours in 2019 and 35 hours in 2020. In exchange, management ensures that it will not make any redundancies by then .
The 800 employees who participated in the vote had voted in favor by 56%. But the vote revealed divisions of personnel between one side executives, employees, technicians and supervisors who had said “yes” up to 74%, and other workers who had voted 39% to approve the project.
After the referendum, the CGT and the CFDT, majority between them accounting for 53% of employees, however, had vetoed the project management.
100,000 vehicles produced per year
After further tense weeks, and to overcome this opposition, management then offered to employees to sign individual endorsements in their employment contracts. On the 18th December it announced that over 95% of employees had signed them.
Signatures obtained “under pressure” from employees “frightened” denounced Didier Getrey, of the CFDT union in Moselle.
The Smart factory at Hambach, in the Moselle region of France produced some 100,000 vehicles at its plant on the borders of Lorraine, Alsace and Germany.