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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Fonctionnaires : gel des salaires maintenu pour 2013

by Anonymous

Civil Servants: Wage Freeze to Continue in 2013

Translated Saturday 23 February 2013, by Gene Zbikowski

Whereas the index point, which is used to calculate civil servants’ pay, has not changed since it was raised 0.5% in 2010, Marylise Lebranchu, the Minister for the Civil Service, has decided on a wage freeze for 2013. The announcement is “unacceptable” for the CGT trade union.

“There will be no change in the wage freeze for 2013,” the minister told the press following a meeting with the civil service trade unions, adding that such a change would be “incompatible with the trajectory of public finances.”

Marylise Lebranchu nevertheless announced “immediate measures” for category C civil servants, that is to say, those with the lowest pay, in order to improve their careers. Concretely, it is a matter of allowing all the civil servants in that category to accede to the highest pay level (the eighth), whereas previously there was a quota. The measure should concern some 126,000 of the 2.3 million category C civil servants.

The cost of these measures, she pointed out, should be some 16 million euros a year for the three branches of the civil service (central government, territorial government, health care), which is “acceptable for the budget.”

She also announced the opening of a “cycle of negotiations on career paths and pay” with a “first-stage pause in June.” These negotiations, whose priority aim will be to improve the situation of category C civil servants, will notably also have the goal of reforming the pay scales which determine the way civil servants advance in their careers.

The civil servant trade unions were earnestly hoping that their meeting with the minister on February 7 would close with wage hikes for the 5.2 million civil servants. The index point has not budged since it was raised 0.5% in 2010, leading, they emphasize, to a deterioration in civil servants’ purchasing power. The abolition of the policy of withholding a day’s pay when a civil servant is on sick leave also figured on their list of grievances, but the minister indicated to the trade unions that she wanted to wait for the results of a study on the measure.

All of the trade unions are disappointed.

“The minister said a certain number of positive things,” conceded Jean-Marc Canon, the general secretary of the UGFF-CGT (which unionizes central government civil servants), noting in particular the measures in favor of the category C civil servants, and “the broad lines for multi-year negotiations” on the wage scales and schedules. “But the sticking point is that a certain number of urgent measures still are not on the table, in particular concerning the non-payment of the first day on sick leave /…/ and especially, there is no announcement on general measures regarding civil service wages for 2013, and for the CGT, that’s not acceptable.”

“There’s no surprise in the minister’s announcement. That doesn’t mean that we aren’t disappointed,” said Brigitte Jumel for the CFDT trade union, the second-largest civil service trade union, behind the CGT. “We repeated that it is impossible that there should not be a general wage hike in 2013.”

The eight civil service trade unions are to meet on the afternoon of February 7 to decide on the course of action to be taken following the minister’s announcement. The CGT leader has already indicated that his labor union would propose “building the most united mobilizations possible to influence the government’s choices.”

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