Massively used to deal with the health crisis linked to Covid-19, short-time working is making a comeback for a completely different reason: soaring energy prices. Marginal since the government decision to “living with the virus”this system allows an employer to temporarily reduce the activity of its employees while paying them a salary thanks to state aid (60% of gross salary).
Last large company to adopt the mechanism: Cofigeo which put 800 employees (out of 1,200) on technical unemployment, this Monday, January 2. The company, which manufactures ready meals – including William Saurin, Garbit or Zapetti brands – has stopped production at four of its eight sites in France, which represents 80% of its production.
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The factories concerned are those of Capdenac (Aveyron), Pouilly-sur-Serre (Aisne), Camaret-sur-Aigues (Vaucluse) and Lagny-sur-Marne (Seine-et-Marne). Their closure is (for now) planned until the end of January. The activation of the long-term partial activity agreement (APLD) will allow employees to receive compensation of just over 70% of their salary.
In the Vaucluse factory, only about twenty people carry out maintenance. “There are maintenance people like us who have been automatically designated to come to work during this period, but afterwards, we will see if it is extended or not”explains Régis Caffies, mechanic at Cofigeo, to Franceinfo.
An annual bill multiplied by 10
To justify this decision, the agrifood company issued a press release on December 6 explaining that it had to “deal with the spectacular rise in its energy costs (gas and electricity needed for cooking and sterilizing ready meals and recipes), which will be multiplied by 10 from the start of the year”.
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“With an annual energy bill rising from 4 to 40 million euros, this decision has become inevitable to protect our company and its employees”had declared the president of the group, Mathieu Thomazeau.
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Especially since “the health crisis linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, the difficult weather of the past two summers and the conflict in Ukraine have led to a very sharp increase in the price of the raw materials used by Cofigeo, in particular beef, pork, tomatoes but also packaging and transport »recalled Cofigeo in its press release.
Glassworks, factories and small businesses
The food industry is not the only sector where partial unemployment is triggered in the face of the energy crisis. 1er Last November, the famous Duralex glassworks put its furnace on standby for a minimum of four months and placed its 250 employees on partial unemployment. “Our bill (for gas and electricity) has gone from 3 to 13 million euros per year, or 46% of our turnover”, had declared the president of Duralex, José-Luis Llacuna, quoted by BFMTV. The Arc glass factory reopened in early January after four months of partial unemployment for the 1,600 employees.
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In Amiens, the biochemical company Metabolic Explorer (MetEx) – which produces propanediol and butyric acid, which are used in animal feed – had to stop production at its factory in early October, forcing its 350 employees to partially unemployed. If the factory reopened at the beginning of January, it was only at the cost of a financing plan (mainly loans) of 73 million euros, according to “La Tribune”.
Small businesses and craftsmen are also violently affected by the rise in energy prices. Bakers, hairdressers, restaurateurs… Their electricity (or gas) bills have exploded, to the point of also considering partial unemployment to survive. “I have applied for partial unemployment, I hope it will be accepted”, explains for example Xavier Hubert, a restaurateur from Bourg-sur-Gironde who saw the price of his electricity be multiplied by 21, to France3 Nouvelle-Aquitaine.