Taking the form of employee representatives, elected members of companies' representative committees, members of the Comité d'hygiène, de sécurité et des conditions de travail (CHSCT - Health, Safety and Working Conditions Committee), and of trade union representatives, there are more than half a million staff representatives in France today. As deteriorating labour relations are often criticised in France, it is surprising that so few studies have been devoted to the major players in this field. What do we know about the motivations of staff representatives, the work they undertake to inform and defend other employees, or even about their career trajectories? How are they viewed by their colleagues and their employers? Are they discriminated against?
Drawing on very rich statistical data that has hitherto been neglected, this work establishes the first overview of the activity of staff representatives. It reveals that the legal framework within which they operate is ill-adapted to their activity, often pitting employee representatives, employees and employers against each other. Solutions are offered to better represent employee interests without fear of retaliation, in the context of both business negotiations and everyday company life.
Thomas Breda is a Research Fellow at the CNRS and a member of the Paris School of Economics. He is also a permanent member of the Institut des politiques publiques.