Work longer, but better: the negotiation for a new “life at work pact”, with the thorny issue of senior employment, enters hard Friday with the objective for the social partners to achieve an agreement by the end of March. These discussions should in particular allow employees to stay in their jobs longer, while the legal retirement age has been increased from 62 to 64 years. They will understand the question of compensation for unemployed seniors, left unresolved by the social partners in their agreement on unemployment insurance signed in the fall.
The government conditions the approval of this agreement on the successful completion of the current negotiations. This is “super important because it is a reflection of what was expressed during the social movement on pensions”, argues the CFDT, nine months after the promulgation of the controversial reform. “There was a lack of understanding expressed in the world of work: why are we postponing the retirement age without addressing anything in what constitutes professional careers?” explains Yvan Ricordeau on behalf of the first union. “There, we have to answer,” he said.
Employers and unions began their discussions at Medef headquarters at the end of December with a phase of expert hearings. This time, it is a question of tackling “brick by brick” the subjects under discussion with five plenary sessions: the key issue of senior employment, but also attrition, professional career paths and retraining and the creation of a universal time savings account (Cetu). A draft agreement should then only begin to be discussed at the beginning of March. The government has set the objective of moving to an employment rate for 60-64 year olds of 65% “by 2030” (compared to 36.2% in 2022, i.e. -12.3 points compared to the European average).
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In the union ranks, we plead for “acting all the way” because remaining in post until retirement raises the question of working conditions and the sustainability of work in a more global way. “Behind the tip of the iceberg, there is a monster,” summarizes CFE-CGC negotiator Jean-François Foucard. “Through this negotiation, we want to win rights for everyone throughout their career,” points out Nathalie Bazire, negotiator for the CGT, who is calling for “binding measures for companies.”
“We must enter into this negotiation through professional paths”, because “the question of the end of a career cannot be resolved at the end of a career” is echoed by the negotiator of the Confederation of SMEs, Éric Chevée, on the management side. But “to do the best on employee support systems, to improve employment conditions at constant euros, no one knows how to do it in this country, so there will be discussions which will undoubtedly be very close”, anticipates Mr. Ricordeau. “We can do something yakafokon”, a document which “blocks a cupboard” and “we will find ourselves in 3-4 years with companies which say: I have even more tension on jobs, I cannot manage to find the skills...", warns Jean-François Foucard (CFE-CGC).
Finally, while Gabriel Attal wants to “go further in the reform of unemployment insurance” and has warned that it would be renegotiated in the event of financial drift, Éric Chevée asks the government to explain its intentions in order to “avoid an inappropriate annoyance of the social partners. He recalls that at the start of the negotiation on unemployment insurance, unions and employers had contested the macro-economic trajectory presented by the State, more optimistic than that of Unédic and most economists.
A possible agreement will then have to be transcribed into law, with unions expecting the government to take the opportunity to add other measures. To fight against what he calls “inactivity traps”, Gabriel Attal has already announced the elimination of the specific allowance for unemployed people at the end of their rights (ASS).