Do the strikers in the TotalEnergies refineries really earn 5,000 euros a month?

TotalEnergies employees, who are on strike at the call of the CGT, gather in front of the Gonfreville-l'Orcher refinery near Le Havre on October 10, 2022.

This was announced by the management of TotalEnergies in a press release on October 10th “the average level of remuneration of TotalEnergies refineries in France” come from “5000 Euro”. Several commentators were moved, suggesting that such wage levels tainted the strikers’ legitimacy to fight for their wages. The “liberal” columnist Dominique Seux started his column about France Inter: “There is no question that these salaries are too high in relation to the qualifications and the positions occupied: we will not allow ourselves such a judgment – although I have a small idea of ​​​​the reaction of our listeners when they hear these figures! »

In a Call for Evidence on Fuel Shortages published on Lemonde.frjudged several readers “shameful” the mobilization of refinery operators using the high level of remuneration communicated by TotalEnergies.

At the beginning of the strike movement in the French oil company’s refineries, the General Confederation of Trade Unions (CGT) took the group’s communications very badly. “We don’t know where that number came from.annoys Thierry Defresne, CGT secretary of the European works council TotalEnergies SE. That’s social data that doesn’t exist, wet finger figures released only to dirty the strikers. »

Also read: Fuel Shortages: Ten Answers to Your Questions to Understand the Current Crisis

Hakim Belouz, Force Ouvrière (FO) union representative at TotalEnergies, also believes that management is making an effort “Inciting Public Opinion Against Employees”. Geoffrey Caillon, delegate of the French Confederation of Democratic Trade Unions (CFDT) – a union that did not take part in the strike movement – also deplored management’s announcement that “takes all of France as a witness to show that our salaries are not so low” and “will not tend to calm spirits”.

What does this figure of 5,000 euros per month refer to?

First, we need to recall a few details: The amount of 5,000 euros gross per month that the hydrocarbon giant is proposing is what it says is the gross monthly salary “workers and supervisors” refineries and specifically includes hardship, performance and profit-sharing awards.

Excluding profit-sharing and participation bonuses – which averaged €9,100 due to the company’s good results in 2022 – TotalEnergies says the average monthly remuneration of a refiner is €4,300.

Several CGT union officials were quick to deny these numbers. Emmanuel Lépine, Secretary General of the National Federation of Chemical Industries (FNIC-CGT), assured RTL that this is the average salary of a refiner operator “is around 3,000 euros”also recalls that it is about “very highly qualified positions”.

In a video posted on Twitter, Adrien Cornet, CGT delegate and employee of the Total refinery in Grandpuits (Seine-et-Marne), evokes an average of 2,500 euros. In particular, he points out that these salaries include several bonuses linked to the arduousness of the work to which teams are sent “Three times eight o’clock, [6 heures-14 heures, 14 heures- 22 heures et 22 heures-6 heures] who work three weekends out of five and breathe in gasoline and chemicals”.

Also read: Fuels: strikes renewed, government starts requisitioning staff at ExxonMobil depot in Port-Jérôme-Gravenchon

The collective agreement for the mineral oil industry provides for shift bonuses of 18% of the salary without bonuses, e.g “Permanent shift workers belonging to consecutive shifts working continuously on a 24-hour rotation basis, without interruption at night, on Sundays and on public holidays”.

According to the French Federation of Petroleum Industries, Energy and Mobility (Ufipem), the basic salary of a worker at the beginning of his career in a refinery company is just under 2,200 euros gross per month, to which is added a shift bonus of 540 euros. Or 2,740 euros gross per month to start your career.

For an employee with almost twenty years of service, the gross base salary is around EUR 3,600, plus almost EUR 1,200 in bonuses (including shift and seniority bonuses, 1% per year of service). Or a gross monthly salary of 4,800 euros after twenty years of work. Ufipem also notes “that 85% of employees in the industry have a real salary that is more than 10% above the usual minimum wage”. The monthly advance of 5,000 euros by TotalEnergies seems to come much closer to the salary of a very experienced refinery operator than that of an average employee.

Also read: Article reserved for our subscribers Fuel Crisis: The Graduated Executive Branch Response

“Up to what salary level do we have the right to fight for our purchasing power? »

In any case, the figures published by the company management do not say much about the salary reality in the French refineries, since an average can hide large differences between the employees. Contacted, the company did not respond to our inquiries regarding the average salary at its refineries.

The union officials contacted also declined to provide exact salary figures, claiming they didn’t want to fall into the trap of their management.

In fact, they all remember that TotalEnergies employees are demanding higher wages given the good results of the company, which made a profit of $10.6 billion (10.9 billion euros) in the first half of 2022, and recently gave its shareholders an exceptional one Have paid interim dividend of 2.62 billion euros.

The CGT is asking for a 10% wage increase, with 7% for inflation and 3% for wealth sharing. “Up to what salary level do we have the right to fight for our purchasing power?asks Thierry Defresne. Our labor is worth less in 2022 than it was in 2021, and should we accept that? Do we have to eat rats to complain about inflation? » His FO colleague Hakim Belouz agrees: “Even though our salary would be high, would that be a problem? Is there a law that prohibits strikes from 5,000 euros a month? »

Also read: Article reserved for our subscribers Fuel Shortages: The issue of extending TotalEnergies rebates causes a hiccup in the government

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