Paris (AFP)

Covid-19, shortage of semiconductors, drop in sales, job cuts, transition to electric vehicles ... Among automotive manufacturers Renault and Stellantis, the accumulation of uncertainties is weighing down the morale of French employees, " far from being out of the tunnel ", report the unions.

"The short-term future is very unpredictable. (...) Employees do not see the end of it, it generates a lot of worry, anguish and psycho-social risks", is alarmed by the 'AFP Christine Virassamy, CFDT central union delegate from Stellantis.

In factories affected by partial unemployment, employees do not know if they are working until "the day before for the next day", she criticizes.

"Manufacturers learn at the very last moment the semiconductors they will have," said Luc Chatel, president of the Automotive Platform (PFA, which brings together the automotive industry in France), on BFM Business.

The lack of electronic components, "nobody expected it to take on such a scale", underlines Frédéric Lemaytch, CFTC trade unionist at the Stellantis plant in Poissy (Yvelines).

"We stop complete teams. It's unheard of" and "we are far from being out of the tunnel", he fears.

"Things will have to change, otherwise the elastic will end up cracking," he warns.

- "Diving into the unknown" -

Alongside this "cyclical crisis" of supply, "which is spread over time", the automotive industry must face a "very heavy structural phase of transformation of both its product and its model" towards neutrality carbon, recalls Bruno Azière, national secretary of CFE-CGC Métallurgie.

However, to manufacture an electric motor, it takes "six to seven times fewer parts than for a heat engine", specifies Gabriel Artero, president of this union federation.

And "3.5 times less time", adds a professional in the sector.

With "less staff", adds another.

In the Renault plant in Cléon, in Seine-Maritime, June 6, 2017 CHARLY TRIBALLEAU AFP / Archives

"It plunges employees into the unknown", who already "pay with flexibility" for the current chaotic situation, notes Mr. Lemaytch.

"Employees are rightly worried," said Ms. Virassamy.

At Stellantis, "all sites on thermal activity hear all the time that they are going to disappear" and management refers to the next "strategic plan" expected at the end of 2021 or early 2022, she indicates.

- "Pressure in all directions" -

At Renault, the new strategy has been known since January.

Objectives of this "Renaulution": decrease in the number of vehicles produced, increase in profitability, new 100% electric vehicles.

In mid-September, unions and management started negotiations for a social agreement for the period 2022/24 in France.

On the program: working time, training, staff.

If management says it wants to "develop its high value-added activities" in France and hire 2,500 people, including 2,000 for its factories, it also wants to cut 1,600 jobs in engineering and 400 in support functions.

Two activities already hit by 2,500 job cuts in the savings plan launched in spring 2020 by Renault, a group in difficulty before the pandemic.

"In engineering, the climate is complicated. There are pressures in all directions", worries a trade unionist on condition of anonymity.

At the Renault plant in Sandouville, near Le Havre, May 22, 2020 LOU BENOIST AFP / Archives

At the Lardy engine test technical center (Essonne), "work has been withdrawn, projects canceled. There are very strong uncertainties for some of the employees. We are worried about the health of some who do not really go. not well ", warns Florent Grimaldi, CGT delegate of the site.

Those responsible for the development "of the latest thermal or hybrid engines are overloaded with work", but they are "without prospects" because the management "does not know how to guarantee the future".

On the production side, despite the announced hires, "it's very tense" at the Cléon plant (Seine-Maritime), where the staff went off work twice this month because of the social negotiations in progress, reports William Audoux, CGT manager.

In Sandouville (Seine-Maritime), the factory closed Friday "for 15 days in a row", while "the order books are full (...). Employees are worried", points Fabien Gloaguen, delegate FO.

As for the temporary workers, who "do not benefit" from the agreement on partial unemployment, "they will not be paid".

© 2021 AFP

Keywords: renault, covid-19, virassamy.at stellantis, employees, vehicles, end, uncertainties, employee morale, afp, future, morale, unions, unemployment, semiconductors, transition