Inflation triggers wage increases

24th of October 2022
Inflation triggers wage increases

Christian Bouzols, ECJ correspondent in France, tell us about rising pressures on cleaning companies.

A new general wage increase of 2.9 per cent has been agreed in the cleaning sector, bringing to 5.5 per cent the total increases awarded for 2022. To this must be added a 27 per cent increase in the transport allowance given to cleaning workers. This was announced during the summer by the Fédération des Entreprises de Propreté, d’Hygiène et Services Associés (FEP), the main employer organisation in the sector.

As announced by its president, Philippe Jouanny: “Following an earlier agreement to raise the minimum wage by 2.6 per cent this year, a further rise of 2.9 per cent was agreed, thus raising the minimum wage by a total of 5.5 per cent for 2022 alone. In addition, it has been agreed to increase the transport allowance by 27 per cent.”

But Jouanny also made the point that this rise wouldn’t be without consequences for a number of companies in the sector, given that many of them are fairly small.

“Considering that our businesses have margins of between one and three per cent and that their wage bill represents a very large part of their costs, if you increase wages by two per cent, you’re going to see your margins disappear,” he added, bringing this fact to the attention of public sector entities, as these are large users of cleaning and related services.

“Our sector is faced with conflicting demands, particularly the social, environmental and quality requirements of customers on the one hand, and the low cost policies of those purchasers on the other. It will be necessary for these increases to be reflected in the prices to be applied in both private and public contracts,” he added. The FEP covers about 70 per cent of the cleaning sector’s manpower.

Unions unhappy

On the labour side, the trade unions aren’t too happy with the agreement. “We’ve decided to sign this increase even though it doesn’t compensate for the loss of purchasing power and the other daily cost increases, and doesn’t reach the inflation rate we’ve been living with for several years,” said CFDT union in a communiqué, adding that it had refused to sign the two previous wage proposals by
the employers.

This union therefore intends to demand a substantial wage increase during the forthcoming negotiations as inflation in France now exceeds five per cent, which has never happened since 1985.
The French cleaning sector comprises more than 15,000 companies and employs some 570,000 people, registering a turnover of over €17 billion.


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