The coronavirus epidemic has highlighted that certain hitherto under-valued professions were essential. How to register this awareness over time?

Cyril Chabanier: Let us build a new social contract and a new status for the worker, with rights attached to the person. For several years at the CFTC, we have carried the idea that we must take into account all the activities, today too often snubbed, which have real social utility. And yes, that must translate, among other things, into remuneration. You have to be able to make a decent living from your job. The situation of these people who cannot make ends meet by working eight hours a day cannot go on.

But how do we do it?

CC. : Let’s start by reviewing the job classifications, which allow the salary scales and associated working conditions to be changed. Currently, classifications do not sufficiently recognize certain skills. Even the so-called “unskilled” professions require know-how and skills.

Take the cleaning men and women: disinfecting premises in an imposed period requires an undeniable ability. For the cashiers, the relationship with the customer is a way of life that is not taken into account in the remuneration. Let’s stop focusing only on diplomas or very technical skills. There is also a need to improve career development opportunities.

To become a nurse, a caregiver must return to three years of schooling, which very few of them do. Let’s facilitate progressions. It is not normal that the less qualified your profession is when you enter the workforce, the less the social elevator will work for you.

Do you not fear that these wishes for change will go unheeded after the crisis?

CC. : Obviously! In 2008-2009, during the financial crisis, the speeches were identical and nothing has changed almost. We will not have to replay the same music! We are calling for the creation of a permanent joint social dialogue committee to deal with the post-crisis period and to take action over time.

Has this crisis brought back the importance of social dialogue?

CC. : Between the yellow vests movement, pension reform and now the coronavirus epidemic, the government has understood the value of frank, intense and quality social dialogue. At the national level, we meet with the Ministry of Labor every Tuesday and Friday, and even if the answers given are not always the ones hoped for, we are listened to.

In companies, we can see that where dialogue existed before the crisis, things are going better. Social dialogue should not come out like a dove from the hat only when the situation is complicated.

It’s a shame: when all is well, we are forced to fight for wage increases in companies and social measures from the government; on the other hand, when all goes bad, the purse strings untie and the bonuses flourish!


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