Agreement on employment and the organisation and reduction of working time at Renault

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In April 1999, an agreement was signed by five of the six trade unions represented at Renault in France, providing for the reduction of the working week to an average of 35 hours over the year, along with 10,500 early retirements and 7,000 new recruitments.

On 2 April 1999, an agreement was signed by five of the six trade unions represented at the motor manufacturer, Renault, which provides for a reduction in working time (FR9806113F) and for the early retirement of 10,500 employees. The signatory unions - CFDT, CFTC, CFE-CGC, CGT-FO and CSl-Sir- won around 60% of votes in the most recent workforce elections among the 44,000 employees of the Renault parent company. However, the union has indicated that it will not sign the deal. The main points of the agreement are set out below.

  • Reduction in working time. From 1 September 1999, the working week will be reduced to an average of 35 hours for employees on a "normal schedule" and 34 hours 24 minutes for employees on shiftwork. These average weekly hours will be calculated over a year, as is currently the case for engineers and managerial and professional staff. The reduction in working time will translate, notably, into 10 extra days' holiday per year.
  • Annualisation. The annualisation of working time may be implemented in plants, even if there is no establishment-level agreement on the subject. This may result in Saturday working, but with these "extended working weeks" being used as a last resort and qualifying workers for a day off in lieu. Periods of intense activity will now be limited to four months per year.
  • Actual working time. The agreement excludes from "actual working time" (temps de travail effectif- FR9806113F) one 20-minute break per day, as well as certain hours of training.
  • Supplementary leave. Supplementary leave is provided as follows: shiftworkers are entitled to one extra day of individual leave; reorganisation of working time agreed at establishment level may entitle the employees concerned to two extra days' leave; and during the five years prior to retirement, employees can opt to replace their unused training time with days of leave.
  • Pay. The agreement provides for current remuneration levels to be maintained.
  • Employment. The agreement provides for 6,000 new recruits over five years, but does not reverse the decline in the size of the workforce, which should continue to fall at an average annual rate of around 5%. To offset the reduction in working time, Renault anticipates that it will take on 2,100 young people. At the same time, a plan to create a younger workforce provides for the voluntary early retirement, over five years, of 10,500 workers over 57 years of age, which will be compensated for by the recruitment of 3,900 new workers (detailed provisions are to be negotiated at divisional level). The extension of this measure to the Renault group's automobile division will result in a total of 7,000 new recruits over five years, compared with the current workforce of 56,000.
  • Working week for managerial and professional staff. The pay and working time of engineers and managerial and professional staff (cadres) will be annualised. A weekly, self-administered system to monitor working time in terms of days will be put in place, though not for the highest levels of staff, who will have a responsibility-related workload, with all their holidays being taken on an individual basis. The average working week over the year of other categories of managers is set at 38.5 hours, with overtime included in basic salary.
  • Time capital and time savings accounts. In 1996, Renault signed an agreement on "time capital" (capital temps) enabling all employees to bank time off in an individual time savings account. In addition to the original scheme, the new agreement creates "collective time capital" to be used in times of slumps in activity and thus limit financial losses for the company and employees (in terms of short-time working).
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