Sep 08: Around 250 to 300 employees of the well-known Champagne House, Moet and Chandon went on flash strike last week and collected in the main courtyard at the headquarters at Epernay France to demonstrate and make their demands heard and insist that they be paid the ‘Macron Bonus’ introduced in 2019, which they have been paid in 2019 and 2020 but the parent company LVMH has reportedly refused to pay this year although a spokeswoman for LVMH has reportedly said that discussions should take place, writes Subhash Arora
The bonus, named after the French President Emmanuel Macron who instituted it in the wake of the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) protests in late 2018. This is a tax-free annual bonus of €1000 ($1190) paid by corporations to employees whose pay is less than three times the minimum wage, according to Wine Searcher.
Earlier this year, the French government announced its renewal but local union representative Alexandre Rigaud of the General Workers Union (CGT told the French news agency AFP that LVMH and Moet & Chandon were not ready to pay this amount this year.
“The management of Moet et Chandon and LVMH does not want to pay the “Prime Macron” this year and the employees do not understand that with the profits that are made at LVMH, the fortune of Mr. Arnault and the turnover at Moët et Chandon, the management does not want to share a fair distribution of profits with the employees,’ Rigaud has reportedly said, explaining that an amount of €800 was paid in each of the two previous years 2019 and 2020.
The “Prime Macron”, paid since 2019, was introduced with the aim of thanking employees for their investment. This bonus was used in particular to thank employees who had continued to work during the Covid-19 health crisis. The government did not initially plan to renew it for 2021. However, Prime Minister Jean Castex had finally announced its renewal.
The strikers have given LVMH management until the last weekend to begin talks, else the strikes were due to resume again on Monday. According to AFP, a spokeswoman for the Champagne house said discussions should take place with staff and an amicable settlement is expected.
The gilets jaunes (Yellow Vests) protests started with a group of people wearing the yellow reflective jackets-which had been made compulsory to be carried in every car to ensure safety when a car driver had an emergency at night in the dark. With the petrol and gas prices skyrocketing due to increased taxes, and the social media pouring oil to the fire, these protests became national (is there a lesson for India in this?!) and the government did make relaxations in the taxes. Since then it has become a practice for protestors to wear these yellow jackets and come on the streets in big numbers, often clashing with the police and they are referred to as the gilets jaunes protests. President Macron has encountered massive demonstrations since 2018 over his policy orientations and style of governance. The Protest at Moet & Chandon is the latest in the series of such protests by working class people.
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