Faced with Covid-19, companies and unions are trying to organize themselves to continue economic activity

For companies, confinement rhymes for the moment with mess and puzzle. After the “stay at home” launched by Emmanuel Macron at the beginning of the week, confusion reigns among economic players. Some brands such as DIY stores and opticians have decided to draw their curtains even though they are on the lists of authorized shops. As for employees, anger is mounting in several companies such as Amazon where some 300 people went on strike on March 18 at the Saran site south of Orleans to demand its closure. “The employer does not provide us with hydroalcoholic gel, no masks, not the necessary equipment for us to protect ourselves, testifies Khaled Boucharja, secretary general CGT45. We have the impression that our lives are in danger and we are endangering us. danger that of our families too. We do not stop the spread of Covid 19. ” Same story in chemistry, an essential sector for manufacturing hydroalcoholic gel or drugs, where the CGT calls in a very vindictive statement against the government to stop work immediately: “The employees are not virus / cannon fodder for profit. “

The government seeks to reassure

Towards a paralysis of the economy? The president of Medef sounds the alarm and pleads for “a minimum service” in the companies to avoid a total crash of the activity. It is still necessary to remove the uncertainties and concerns of each. To calm the spirits, Emmanuel Macron called for “the civic responsibility of companies to continue their activity when possible while enjoining employees whose companies have brought themselves into compliance with health rules to go and work on production sites” . After wielding the stick at the start of the week, the government is now shaking the carrot:

the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire called this Friday, March 20 “companies to pay a tax-exempt bonus to their employees, especially those who have had the courage to go to their place of work”.

At the same time, the executive is increasing its meetings with the social partners in order to find concrete solutions as quickly as possible which will allow the continuation of economic activity and the safety of employees. To achieve this, the government puts pressure on the professional branches so that they enact codes of good conduct specific to each sector. These are organized on a forced march to adapt to a non-standard situation: “Social dialogue is intense in many large and medium-sized enterprises to put in place efficient rules of the game that allow work organization in these time of crisis, estimates Raymond Soubie, president Alixio. The social and economic committees are extensively consulted and in most cases, this social dialogue goes well “.

Minimum agreement between unions and employers

There remains the interprofessional level. There, the task is more difficult: the social partners, who organized a telephone meeting on Thursday, March 19, struggled to top on a joint letter to define a framework for securing workers. However, the Medef, the main employers’ organization, has put water in its wine to win the support of all by translating an agreement of the Italians. Indeed, on the other side of the Alps, government, employers and unions found common ground at the beginning of the week to define a protocol of measures to prevent the virus in companies where teleworking is not possible: the temperature when hiring, setting up rotating teams that do not intersect, space of at least one meter between each employee …

But nothing like this in France as the employee unions have divergent positions. Only the CFDT is ready to follow the Medef on condition that the employees are protected and that the social dialogue is at the center of the game. For its part, the CGT braces itself on the definition of “essential activities” and wishes the shutdown of the rest of the economy. Finally, Force Ouvrière asks that the means of protection (masks and hydroalcoholic gel) be made available to each employee. As for an inter-professional agreement, Yves Veyrier does not see the usefulness of it: “We are being asked to replace the State to define safety standards in companies, he explains. We are not a doctor, I can not tell you if the distance between people is a meter or more … Our message is clear: give us the means to be able to work in complete safety.As regards the adaptation of working time, organization of work in companies… We already know how to do that. No need for an agreement ”.