Feb 11, 2022
Louis Vuitton: Hundreds of employees stage walkout, make salary, working hours demands
Feb 11, 2022
On Thursday, several hundred workers from three of Louis Vuitton's 18 factories in France staged a walkout organised by the CGT and CFDT trade unions, demanding for better wages and protesting against the changes in working hours proposed by the management.
“Louis Vuitton has offered an average [salary] rise of €150 per month, coupled with a reduction in working hours from 35 to 33 hours per week,” stated the group, saying that it is committed to preserving its employees’ “work-life balance.” Louis Vuitton estimated that 5.3% of employees went on strike. The LVMH-owned luxury group emphasised it has “an attractive remuneration policy,” offering “on average 18 months of wages each year” to its approximately 5,000 French employees.
A number of Louis Vuitton workers in the French towns of Asnières, Sarras and Issoudun staged a walkout during the changeover between the morning and evening shifts, loudly denouncing what they believe are the adverse effects of the group’s proposal, according to Denis Bertonnier of CGT.
“The proposal to compute working hours on an annualised basis isn’t convenient for us,” said Mireille Bordet, a CFDT representative in Asnières. “It will simply go to the detriment of our private life. Switching from 35 to 33 hours [per week] won’t generate additional working time reductions [known in France as RTT] and will force us to work late in the evenings.”
A hundred or so workers, mostly women, clad in their workshop aprons, brandished posters heralding their refusal to work night shifts and denouncing their “fantastic work for pitiful salaries.” “[Louis Vuitton] is also doing this to reduce the amount it spends on overtime,” said Thomas Vacheron of the textiles/leather goods section at CGT.
According to the employee representatives, negotiations have been ongoing since the autumn, but on Tuesday the management asked the unions to sign off on their proposal this week, triggering the CGT and CFDT’s hostility.
The CFTC union, representing over 50% of the workers, said it wishes to give negotiations “the chance to continue.” The hostile unions instead denounced an attempt “to force the deal through” and threatened to call for strike action “within a week” should their demands not be met.
They claim that Louis Vuitton wants to exploit the proposed working hours change to eliminate the standard day shift and operate only the morning and evening shifts, the only ones being offered to new employees.
“The management is tying salary rises to the working hours [change],” said Bordet. “They said that if the project is approved, [wages] will rise, but if not, they will give us nothing.”
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