FRANCE: Renault France unions flex muscles ahead of new pay talks
Renault unions are offering radically contrasting reactions to the automaker's 59% leap in 2013 operating profit of EUR1.24bn (US$1.7bn) revealed today (13 February) in Paris and ahead of imminent salary negotiations.
The French manufacturer posted Group revenue up 0.5% to EUR41bn and is forecasting increased operating profit this year, but the unions, most fresh from last year's productivity deal, are starting to flex their muscles.
"These good results are the consequence of new models - it's through the design and quality of the products - Clio 4, Captur, Duster - the business can sell vehicles and be competitive," said a statement from the moderate CFDT union.
"It's also the start of the competivity agreement impact [with] the high involvement and efforts of the workers. The CFDT expects a recognition of these efforts [which] is necessary to motivate the teams for years to come."
Last year, Renault secured more than 60% workforce approval for its radical restructuring plan that will see increased volume and no factory closures in exchange for swingeing redundancies, although the powerful and hardline Confederation Generale du Travail's (CGT) union's signature was glaringly absent.
As part of the deal Renault has committed to producing at least 710,000 vehicles in France by 2016, compared with 530,000 vehicles in 2012.
This will take the overall utilisation rate of the facilities in France to more than 85% and will allow business to continue at the company's French sites until 2016 and up to 2020. However, there will be 7,500 redundancies.
In keeping with its tougher stance, the CGT nonetheless reacted to today's healthy results from Renault with rather more scepticism, insisting they have come about as a result of its employees.
"The CGT suggests using the wealth created by workers to build the future and development of Renault," noted a CGT statement. "Without our vigilance, shareholders and members of the Executive Committee will be the only winners.
"These results do not reflect the industrial activity of Renault, but are the result of an unprecedented increase in vehicle margins.
"The CGT demands a social agreement contrary to the regression we have suffered since March 2013, advocating wage restraint, increased working time and a lessening of working conditions.
"The CGT proposes these financial results come back for the good of workers and not just to serve the growing appetite of its principal shareholders."
Renault insisted it took into account the efforts of all its staff, with the automaker about to enter new salary negotiations with its unions.
"Of course it is [the] efforts of everyone in the company," a Renault spokeswoman told just-auto from Paris. "[Salary] talks are due to start shortly.
"We reached one of two targets we had set [in] the strategy plan. Full-year results - we are on target. Three years ago, we thought the European sector would not be in such a crisis as we witnessed, so we set a target of 3m vehicles sold by the end of 2013.
"Then [with] the crisis in Europe we could not quite reach that. Even though it was booming outside Europe, it was not sufficient to compensate for the European crisis."