French health workers sign historic agreement

It’s a pity that it took a global pandemic for the worth of health professionals in France to finally be recognized. On 13 July, French trade unions finally signed an agreement for the health sector. More than 1 million health sector employees will benefit from this historic agreement.

By Maryvonne Nicolle and Cyrille Duch, Federal Secretaries at CFDT Santé-Sociaux.

It is shocking that the government has only acted when faced with thousands of workers and citizens who have been infected with Covid-19, notwithstanding the many employees who died after contracting the virus. This comes after years of budgetary austerity, ignorance and contempt for professionals in the health and social services sectors.

The demands made over the last 10 years by the Fédération CFDT Santé-Sociaux (CFDT health and social services union) have finally been included in this agreement signed by Evelyne Rescanières, General Secretary of CFDT Santé-Sociaux.

The agreement represents 7.5€ billion per year, distributed among health employees, including permanent and contract workers in public hospitals and nursing homes (EHPAD), and staff of health establishments in both the non-profit and for-profit sector.

The signature of this agreement means:

  • more than a million public hospital staff will obtain €183 net extra pay per month (2196€ per year).

  • the most precarious employees (such as hospital technical services staff) paid until now at minimum wage (SMIC) will be upgraded to 110% of the SMIC. This corresponds to a 15% increase in their salary.

  • career development for nurses' assistants and childcare assistants.

  • 15,000 additional posts are being created, but for the CFDT, 7,300 posts already exist in the hospital but are not filled. There would therefore in reality be about 8,000 new posts, which we believe is not enough.

  • the upgrading of classification scales for many jobs (nurses, rehabilitation and medical-technical staff, care directors, etc.) before 1 January 2022.

  • a budget envelope allocated to employees in the health sector and EHPADs of the non-profit sector (i.e. €180 net/month) and €160 net/month for employees in the for-profit sector, subject to the conclusion of a branch agreement between the social partners.

Other measures included in the agreement enhance the attractiveness of hospital jobs: professional training, career development, recognising seniority, and working conditions. Even though CFDT Santé-Sociaux did not want social and medico-social establishments to be excluded from the scope of the agreement, this is unfortunately the case. CFDT Santé-Sociaux is determined to obtain measures for employees of these establishments, and it was the only trade union that maintained this demand throughout the negotiations: the agreement provides for further discussion on this issue.

The agreement provides for a monitoring committee and working groups on the implementation of future measures.

It is planned to hold a minimum of one meeting per quarter. These meetings will be attended solely by the signatory trade unions and representatives of the Ministries (General Directorate for Healthcare Provision[2] and General Directorate for Social Cohesion[3]).

In addition to this agreement, staff of health establishments, EHPADs and certain social services will obtain a bonus linked to Covid-19 ranging from €1000 to €1500.

CFDT Santé-Sociaux has referred the matter to the State Council to request an overall bonus of 1500€, for all professions in the public health, social and medico-social sector, as a recognition of staff commitment. CFDT Santé-Sociaux has been calling for a single, universal bonus for all health employees from the outset, including in the private sector.

A draft decree on the recognition of COVID19 as an occupational disease for professionals in the health and social services sector is in preparation.

This is already a giant step, but for CFDT Santé-Sociaux, the reconstruction of tomorrow's health, social and medico-social sector has only just begun.