Laurent Escure, secretary general of Unsa in Montpellier: “we ask efforts from employees but never from companies, from the most fortunate”

Laurent Escure, secretary general of Unsa in Montpellier: “we ask efforts from employees but never from companies, from the most fortunate”

Laurent Escure, ce mercredi matin au Corum de Montpellier. Midi Libre – JEAN-MICHEL MART

Laurent Escure, general secretary of the National Union of Autonomous Unions (Unsa) is in Montpellier on the occasion of the national congress of his federation of territorial civil servants. The leader of the country's fifth trade union organization discusses current social issues, from the arrival of the Olympics to the reform of unemployment insurance.

What are the reasons for your coming to Hérault and Montpellier ?

I would like to regularly meet activists on the ground, in businesses and administrations. Tuesday, I went to Béziers to see those of Vectalia. When I meet employer representatives, ministers and we discuss social issues, these visits provide me with concrete examples. It's not just Excel spreadsheet analyzes or expert opinions, it's what people experience. I have discreet tendencies, weak signals.

The risk of ’smicardization" territorial agents

One year after the conflict over pension reform, how do you judge the social health of the country ?

We have launched an index of the morale of employees and public officials for five months, a form of survey. Out of ten, the index is at 5.5 in June, stable compared to May . We see that concern is greater among women and public officials. After having taken blows to the head, pensions, unemployment insurance, we have, for two months, a very anxiety-provoking discourse on public deficits, budgetary blows. When there is an economic crisis, those who pay the price are women and public officials. When we see the strength of populism in the country, which poses a threat to social democracy and workers' rights, there is a cultural battle to be fought. We must be able to build a positive, I was going to say joyful, story of the social demand. Positive perspectives are credible and obtainable. We have the responsibility, the trade union organizations, to carry a message of hope. We are in this period.

How is the federation of territorial agents important for Unsa ?

We have good representation, particularly in Montpellier and the Metropolis. The federation is the barometer of the consideration given to public officials. There is no equality between public functions, the territorial one is the least valued. Éric Woerth just released a report last week in which he proposed breaking the indexing of the territorial index point to that of the central civil service. We are fiercely opposed to it, we would have a complete break, which means that these people would no longer be civil servants. This is a very popular proposition among some local elected officials. We have a lot of category C here, they are close to the minimum wage and the risk is to have a minimum wage of the territorial civil service. This is a real danger, social, union and not healthy for society. Democracy, the debate of ideas deserves better than this little political communication.

How do you view the savings measures requested by the Minister of the Economy?

We have a kind of unbearable double standard between the blows given and the efforts required of employees but never of companies or the most fortunate. We have 180 billion exemptions from charges and social contributions, maybe 10, 20 or 30% could go elsewhere and Bruno the Mayor's problems with balancing the accounts would be resolved, there would be no need to eliminate civil servant positions. Should we help all businesses, without ever looking at what it's for? These questions are a counter-narrative, which is not punitive but which allows people to be proud to contribute to solidarity.

Purchasing power: "it has to be the employees' turn"

Where are we with the requests for bonuses made for civil servants mobilized during the Olympic Games ?

It’s progressing but it’s not widespread. An agreement was reached for the SNCF, the RATP and the police. Bonuses have been granted for public employees but they are often too low and there is also the private sector. But it’s not just Paris. In the regions, people will be mobilized who will come as reinforcements in Ile-de-France. Things must move forward, I hope, but there is still a risk of creating a sort of feeling, of social injustice around the Olympics. So that should bring people together. What we see is that the question of wages and purchasing power remains at a very high level of concern, despite the decline in inflation. It has to be the turn of the employees, because since 2008 they have been told “not right away”. On the contrary, they were told that they would have to work two more years. This is yet another element of injustice.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal confirmed his desire to reform unemployment insurance. What levers do you have to oppose it ?

First we will use all the legal frameworks with the Council of State. We will continue to denounce it, through argument. This desire to punish those who no longer have work is unbearable. This will hit young people, who will have a much harder time paying for unemployment rights, and seniors who are no longer wanted after the age of 50. This creates divorce, cold anger, that’s the message I’m sending. This maneuver of always denouncing the weakest is not very glorious, it is the opposite of the principle of social protection. Are people happy to have a career in the RSA ? Social protection must serve as a safety net and a springboard.

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