Although it has not completely confined it, the health crisis has upset the routine of social dialogue. The “Collective Bargaining Report” presented by the Ministry of Labor on July 5 reveals that the pace of agreements, which has been on the rise for several years, has come to a halt.

At the end of this “Atypical year” which saw the suspension of several negotiations, for lack of face-to-face meetings, the services of the ministry conclude that the number of branch agreements has dropped by 23%. With only 959 texts, the social partners fell below the thousand mark, a first since 2013.

Business negotiations, for their part, held up better. It still marked time with 96,500 agreements, a decrease of 7%. “Of course, we are seeing a decline, but the pace of social dialogue has remained quite high. The volume of agreements is still above that of 2018. The underlying trend is still upwards ”, tempers Pierre Ramain, at the head of the General Directorate of Labor (DGT).

Upset themes

“It is above all the content of the negotiation that was impacted by the context”, warns Pierre Ramain. And for good reason, the social dialogue of the year 2020 essentially consisted of responding urgently to the Covid-19 crisis. At the level of professional branches, the salary remains the main subject but it shows a decrease of 38% compared to the previous year. Likewise, the major themes of training and professional equality or even that of complementary social protection are all experiencing a notable decline.

→ INVESTIGATION. Teleworking: the new challenge for companies in the light of deconfinement

On the other hand, the year 2020 will have seen three times as many branch agreements relating to working time, a consequence of the numerous adjustments brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. The reversal is all the stronger as this theme has only been decreasing for three years.

Occupational health agreement

In companies, the DGT lists more than 10,700 agreements relating to Covid-19, or 13.5% of the total. Working time climbs to second place in the topics covered, just behind employee savings and the issue of working conditions is also up to date, with an increase of 25%.

The health crisis even precipitated the adoption of a national inter-professional agreement (ANI) on occupational health which had been negotiated by the social partners for two years. This text, transcribed into common law, aims to prevent occupational risks, fight against professional disinsertion and promote the quality of life at work. It has received the support of all unions except the CGT which sees it as a “Social regression”.

Explosion of teleworking

The widespread use of remote work in recent months partly explains these contrasting figures. “Half of the agreements in companies relating to working conditions are in fact focused on teleworking, Pierre Ramain analysis. And the trend is reflected in our first provisional figures for 2021. “ With this multitude of agreements, a trend is emerging. That of a “Regime of two to three days of teleworking per week”, details the senior official.

→ EXPLANATION. Bosses and unions agree on teleworking

Above all, remote work has also been the subject of one of the major texts adopted by the social partners. The national interprofessional agreement (ANI) adopted on November 26, 2020 by all the parties but criticized by the CGT for its non-binding nature widens the possibilities of having recourse to teleworking and offers many recommendations to frame the practice.


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