Amazon had anticipated employee blocking of its sites

Another salary negotiation going sour. The pay increase proposed by the management of Amazon France, which employs some 15,500 workers, was rejected by unions last night. The offer by employers to raise the general wage increase from 3% to 3.5% during the last negotiating meeting on Thursday, April 14, was deemed “inadmissible” by the unions, which immediately prompted new actions at the logistics sites of the American multinational. .

The issue of purchasing power and thus wage growth after years of freezes has taken on a national political dimension and became a central theme in last fall’s presidential elections, when the government itself began demanding its return on investment from bosses: companies have to make an effort because they have generally managed to keep their margins thanks to “whatever it takes” and the numerous aid paid by the state.

Jean Castex himself gave a boost by addressing entrepreneurs very directly on February 11 to call on them to improve wages at a time when the French are faced with persistent inflation, fueled mainly by rising oil prices and energy, which is undermining their purchasing power. And that was before the invasion of Ukraine by Russia (February 24)…

Rises: very tense negotiations between employer and employee

However, the employers, even aware of the relevance of this ban, were not shocked by the image of their chairman, Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux, who said six months earlier that he expected pay increases given the difficulties in recruiting companies , especially strong in services, then citing catering, hotels and construction, but clearly stating that he first waited for a gesture from the government.

And the chronicle is not empty of these wage negotiations that are under high tension, both at the level of the branches and within the companies themselves, confronted with managements that do not want to let go. Last example: Capgemini, global giant in digital services who is reaping the profits… while welcoming his high turnover (about 25% per year), but which is now on strike with a strike.

Logistics is one of the very strong growing sectors, profits have also risen sharply since the Covid pandemic. Such as the giant Amazon, which in 2021, with the acceleration of e-commerce linked to the Covid pandemic, saw its profits rise by 57% to more than $ 33 billion.

In France, however, wages have not kept pace in a context of inflation and rising fuel prices. For example, on April 4, a social movement started on Amazon’s 8 logistics sites in France to demand a significant wage increase: at least +5%.

But on Thursday, hours before the end of their negotiations with Amazon management, a major union (CFDT, Sud, the CGT, the CAT and the CFE-CGC executives’ union) issued a press release presenting the report. in these conditions set by the management of the company:

“Management announces that it only wants to increase our salaries by 3.5% and is clear to us that it will not go any higher.”

A final discussion session is scheduled for April 20, during which management hopes to obtain the signature and approval of the unions. But these didn’t get off the ground:

“Unacceptable from the e-commerce giant”, they criticize.

The representative unions have not failed on this occasion to express the cynicism of Amazon’s decision to… “sellers charge 5% tax for fuel and inflation” instead of “think of his employees who are struggling to live with dignity”.

‘It didn’t go well’: the unions disappointed

At the end of this day, the unions were particularly angry:

“It did not go very well. It wasn’t really negotiations. The CFDT had 15 demands and none were ultimately included in the draft agreement,” Morgane Boulard, CFDT’s central union representative, told AFP at the end of the discussions.

The employee representative organizations have therefore taken new measures in the hope of reversing the balance of power with management, by calling for “movements in all locations”, in particular through actions to filter entrances and exits of logistics warehouses (even blocking such as in Lauwin-Planque AFP, in the north, and where, according to the CFDT delegate, “some drivers have left their trucks alone”)

On the CBT side, Alain Jeault makes the same observation of a “failure of negotiations”indicating that “filter” “started in Chalon, Douai, Montélimar and Senlis”.

Profits go up, but wages don’t

Bouzienne Bourdim, team leader (CFDT) of the Lauwin-Planques site, testifies to the bitterness of the employees:

† [En 2021, Amazon a fait] billions in profit, so the quality of work was there” but “+3% for someone who earns 1,500 euros, that is less than 30 euros per month. There we no longer work to live, but to survive. †

According to several employees on the site, similar movements would also take place in Chalon-sur-Saône, Montélimar and Boves (Somme).

How Amazon Anticipated and Circumvented the Strike Movement?

Amazon’s management, for its part, stands by its stance: it ruled Thursday evening that its salary increase proposal was “appealing” because it exceeds the “median rates of increase observed in France this year,” all sectors combined. Management indicates that it has enriched its proposal with other benefits, such as: “a 13th month that is extended” to more employees, and “a bonus of 150 euros paid out at the end of 2022”

However, the management of the multinational has reorganized its logistics in order not to be too ashamed of this strike movement and to keep a free hand during the negotiations: by redistributing 90% of the workload normally carried out on French sites to foreign sites.

“The mobilization is there, but Amazon has anticipated and moved the work planned for today in France abroad,” explains Hakim Taoufik (CAT). “In Saran (Loiret) we normally deliver 80,000 parcels per day. At 9:00 am we only had 8,000 units left to distribute.”

(with AFP)