The announcement on Wednesday that the ski lifts would not reopen during the winter holidays sparked an avalanche of calls for help. Deprived of work, seasonal workers hope to continue to receive partial unemployment. But 40% of them who were not hired by their employers will see their situation worsen.
What is the situation for the 200,000 seasonal workers in the Alps?
Antoine Fatiga In a catastrophic situation, worse than in December. It should be noted that 40% of them have never been hired at the start of the season, as requested by the Ministry of Labor from their employers. They did not therefore switch to partial activity and receive unemployment benefits 70% of their salary. They were therefore not entitled to anything. This is still the case today. For only solutions, these workers can only count on the help of their colleagues or their family, and on the food distributions of associations. We are therefore sounding the alarm.
We feel you are angry …
Antoine Fatiga The situation is incredible because the sector received 400 million euros in aid following the decision not to open the ski lifts in December. We are talking about 400 million public money paid without any conditions. The Minister of Labor Élisabeth Borne was asked to make this aid conditional on the hiring of seasonal workers on the dates of a usual season. She told us it was impossible. On the other hand, to control and claim 100 euros of aid too much received from a seasonal worker, that, the services of the Ministry of Labor know how to do. We have set up an email address for workers in difficulty. In a few days, we received 250 messages from people explaining to us that they came with a promise of employment that their employers did not honor, and who ended up with nothing. It is unacceptable that we do not make aid to employers conditional on the hiring of their seasonal workers. But the scandal does not end there …
“The government is starting to think about removing the obligation to pay paid vacation. “
That is to say ?
Antoine Fatiga Partial activity does not cost the employer anything: the latter is only obliged to pay 70% of the salary of the seasonal worker he hires and the State reimburses him automatically. But the Ministry of Labor is telling us that employers are complaining that they also have to pay for paid holidays. The government is starting to think about removing the obligation to remunerate paid vacation. However, he paid 400 million in aid to employers!
How can seasonal workers turn around?
Antoine Fatiga The reform of unemployment insurance deprived them of their rights. Many of them no longer have worked enough to be compensated. As for the solidarity allowance or the RSA, they are also numerous not to have access to it, because they had worked a little before. People find themselves in misery. If local seasonal workers like those from other regions – they each represent one third of workers – can bring family solidarity into play, those from abroad (the last third) find themselves in inextricable situations. A Lithuanian colleague, for example, who had worked at Club Med in October, has not received a penny since. For lack of money, he cannot go home.
Since the confirmation of the non-reopening of the ski lifts on Wednesday, what have you asked the Ministry of Labor?
Antoine Fatiga We hope that he will keep the partial activity covered up to 70% of the salary. This should be the case until the end of February. But the government still has the will to gradually reduce its support. We also demand the total abandonment of the reform of unemployment insurance. Its first measures in force, which extended the duration of contributions from 4 to 6 months to access benefits, have already excluded 1.2 million people from unemployment, according to a study by Unédic. The second, which aims to reduce the amount of unemployment benefits via an overhaul of the calculation of benefits, could affect 800,000 additional people. These last measures were suspended until the beginning of April. We ask for their abandonment. Unfortunately, but that will not surprise anyone, the government prefers to deal with the bosses, the mountain professionals, to compensate for the closure of the ski lifts. He systematically forgets the union organizations, as if the workers were not important.