Carrefour workers invited themselves to the annual shareholders meeting of the French multinational retailer Monday to protest at the ‘progressive dismantling of the group for the profit of shareholders.’
Around 100 or so workers organised by the CGT trade union turned up outside the meeting in Paris dressed in red tops sporting the message: ‘Stop the destructive restructuring – enough with voracious shareholders’
Claudette Montoya, from the CGT, slammed the €1.5 million euro golden goodbye handed to the previous CEO Lars Olofsson despite his ‘catastrophic record’ at the helm at the group that has seen sliding sales and profits in France and elsewhere.
Clearly the current troubles of the world’s second largest retailer, were down to the previous boss’ low wages: so the company is paying its new CEO Georges Plassat, €1.5 million a year, 11% more than Olofsson (excluding his golden send off, that is).
The group, which runs 9,500 stores in 32 countries, is suffering as much from bad management as from the general collapse in consumer spending caused by austerity measures imposed at home (its main market) and abroad. But it still made €2.18 billion profit last year.
Shareholders – including LVMH’s Bernard Arnault, France’s richest man – have been getting sack loads of cash from the group’s coffers in recent years, and even if the dividend was cut in 2011, the company has committed to pay out as much as €340 million to fat cats like Arnault.
For employees delivering the services on the ground it is misery all round. Wages start at the minimum wage of around €1,300, rising to around €1,400 euros after six months. This is topped up with an annual ‘bonus’ of €200 for each additional year worked. Many, especially women, are part-timers earning much much less. And that’s if you’ve still got a job. 10,000 jobs have been axed from Carrefour’s payroll in France in the past three years and unions fear many more of their members will be joining the dole queues.
Union rep Montoya has called for the new management to drop its short term obsession with profits and to come up with a long term strategy that maintains staffing levels and respects and properly pays the employees who keep the CEO and big shareholders so handsomely rewarded.