In Lyon France, there is a growing movement among women janitorial employees at the downtown Part-Dieu shopping center. Confronted with anti-union threats and bad working conditions, the employees at SAMSIC have won most of their demands. Union action pays off big !
On 22 December, in the middle of last-minute Christmas shoppers, over 50 union janitors sales and security staffers and supporters came with gloves, brooms and brushes to “clean up” the shopping center ( and stop sales). This was a joint action by two unions – CGT and CNT-SO – to expose working conditions and demand reinstatement of 2 employees : a CNT-SO unionist and a member of the security staff, employees of SAMSIC building services company.
This was not the first labor action for SAMSIC employees. A stoppage on 15 December 2016 had won them a transportation supplement, and an agreement to increase staff during the Christmas rush.
However in the following weeks SAMSIC responded by firing a union leader. In addition, employee wages were stolen : although the practice is completely illegal, 8% of before-tax wages are withheld. Employees had other demands : safety gloves, dangerous levels of noise, a salary supplement for cleaning uniforms. As management failed to respond, and as all employees suffer from conditions, the two unions decided to work together.
Sales, security and janitorial staff are confronting worsening working conditions : longer hours (from 8:30 am to 9:30 pm); sanitary conditions, noise, loss of parking rights … and this while the Part-Dieu commercial center announces a 300 million Euro investment for 2018.
The joint action forced SAMSIC to reopen negotiations, and to accept the majority of employee demands : gloves, new uniforms, overhaul of the supply and break facility, new equipment. Janitorial employees with the CNT-SO were promoted to hostess status, with a corresponding salary increase of 500E per year for each employee. However sales and security staff failed to gain, and so new joint actions are in the works.