Inflation: banks must resume wage talks

Only a few months after the mandatory annual negotiations, the banks are forced by galloping inflation to resume salary discussions.

Review clause and reopening of pay talks

Inflation rose from 2.9% in January to over 5% at the end of May, forcing banks to resume wage talks as a matter of urgency.

At CNP Assurances, a subsidiary of La Banque Postale, the mandatory annual negotiations led to strike action, which eventually resulted in an agreement for a general increase of 0.75% for gross annual salaries between 45,000 and 65,000 euros, and 2% for gross annual salaries below 45,000 euros. But rising inflation has reshuffled the deck, and the inter-union group is calling for pay talks to resume as soon as possible. The situation is similar within the Crédit Agricole branch, where negotiations are due to resume on Tuesday June 28.

At Crédit Mutuel Alliance Fédérale, the economic context led to the triggering of a review clause, which provided for the opening of an exceptional salary discussion in September 2022 if inflation reached or exceeded 2% over the first 8 months of the year. The acceleration of inflation finally prompted Group management to bring forward this meeting to June, and to apply a general salary increase of 2.2% from July 1. A few months earlier, a general salary increase of 1% had already been implemented, and an exceptional purchasing power bonus (the PEPA bonus, also known as the "Macron bonus") could be paid at the end of the year.

Anticipating the 2023 mandatory annual negotiations

Against this backdrop, the banking sector is obliged to react quickly. On the one hand, pressure from employees and trade unions is strong, and compulsory annual negotiations were often held under tension a few months earlier. On the other hand, the higher inflation rises, the greater the potential salary increases, which encourages banks to press ahead.

In the Crédit Agricole branch, discussions could lead to a general increase as early as this Tuesday, June 28, following an initial increase of 0.77% in January, as part of the mandatory annual negotiations. Crédit Mutuel Arkéa employees, meanwhile, have been granted a general increase of 800 euros gross.

While discussions are currently focusing on salaries for 2022, the banks are already targeting the mandatory annual negotiations for 2023. In view of inflation, they could start earlier than expected. Crédit Agricole SA will open negotiations as early as September, as opposed to the usual November, and the Banque Populaire branch could do the same as early as July.