Salaries: deadlocked negotiations in the banking sector

Bad surprise. After the collective increases obtained for 2022 in several large banking groups, the salary discussions at the level of the professional branch (French Banking Association or AFB) – which concern smaller establishments – could have taken place without incident.

But nothing goes as planned, and these mandatory annual negotiations (NAO) are now blocked, unions and employers’ organization attacking each other through press releases.

To the point that all social dialogue is currently suspended within the branch. “Waiting to be received by the Ministry of Economy and Finance as well as by the Ministry of Labour, we decide unanimously to suspend social dialogue on all the themes”, wrote Thursday the unions (CFDT, CFTC, CGT, FO, and SNB-CGE/CGC). “The AFB confirms its desire to continue the rich and constructive social dialogue conducted with the trade unions”, reacted the next day the employers.

“Total misunderstanding”

In a context marked by accelerating inflation, unions and employers engage in a dialogue of the deaf: on the one hand, staff representatives are calling for generalized collective increases. In January, the unions had jointly demanded a general collective increase of 3.2% in the sector. For its part, the AFB proposes to raise the minimums in the salary grids.

“You have understood that your arguments have not convinced us and that our incomprehension is total as to your refusal of a general increase in wages despite the historical results recorded by our companies” wrote the inter-union, which judges that “the delegation management remains deaf”.

“The Association Française des Banques has started its annual branch negotiations for 2022, which led to a final proposal for a 2% increase in all 55 branch minimum salaries as well as the revaluation of various floors. It brings the first significant level of the branch to more than 13% above the SMIC”, for its part argued the AFB.

Voltage peak

These branch discussions come after a wave of collective increases, unprecedented for ten years, within companies in the sector. The NAOs already concluded at Société Générale, BPCE, BNP Paribas or Crédit Mutuel Alliance Fédérale including, under certain conditions, collective increases ranging from 0.6% to 1%. Discussions also ended in the Crédit Agricole branch on a unilateral decision to raise wages, but the unions have since been calling for a reopening of discussions.

It must be said that these negotiations began in 2021, and that inflation has since taken off, in the wake of the war in Ukraine and the rise in the cost of energy. In France, inflation rose to 4% (on an annual basis) for the month of March, making the subject more sensitive.

“This peak of tension also occurs because we are entering a period of social elections”, underlines a good connoisseur of the file. A series of elections must indeed take place within the banks in 2022 and 2023.

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