A “significant” correlation between conflict at work and remuneration

At a time when the strike of controllers at the SNCF during a holiday weekend has rekindled controversies over the legitimacy of these actions, a study published Thursday February 15 by the management of research, studies and statistics of the Ministry of Labor (Dares) provides elements of perspective. The analysis covers 3,824 establishments with 11 or more employees in the non-agricultural private sector that participated in the 2017 Response survey on social relations in business.

Read also | Article reserved for our subscribers Salaries: inflation “is no longer a subject” for businesses

During the 2014-2016 period, collective conflicts (petitions, meetings, strikes, etc.) affected a minority of establishments. Thus, 7% experience individual conflicts (interpersonal tensions, sick leave or frequent resignations) and some rare collective tensions, 6% experience frequent but short individual and collective conflicts, and only 3% are prey to frequent and long conflicts. On the contrary, 47% of companies only face individual conflicts and 38% little or not at all.

The establishments least affected are those which employ more managers, where the proportion of fixed-term or temporary employees is lower. These are most often companies with fewer than 20 employees, with weaker union representation. Conversely, conflicts persist for a long time in larger companies: they alone represent 10% of private sector employees. They are more old and large industrial and transport establishments – of the SNCF type, therefore, even if none are named. Precarious contracts are more common. And 87% have union representatives.

No “sexual division”

Above all, the study identifies “a significant correlation between conflict at work and remuneration”. The average gross hourly remuneration is in fact higher in these most conflict establishments (19.40 euros, compared to 16.40 euros in non-conflict establishments in 2014; the difference is the same in 2019). It is also a few euros higher where there has been at least one conflict over salaries.

However, given the disparities in company profiles, it has not been established that conflict is the only reason for these differences. Moreover, whether companies have experienced tensions or not, the wage increase curve is essentially the same over the period.

Finally, the survey does not highlight any “sexual division of conflict at work”. Establishments where women are in the majority experience just as many collective conflicts. However, negotiations more rarely address individual increases (–15 points). Incidentally, Dares recalls that, since the 1970s, the number of individual days not worked due to strikes has been divided by three.