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Tuesday, 25 June 2013

The perks of working for EDF or "how heating a swimming pool is cheaper than boiling an egg"

"The real public service scandals" was a recent 40-page pullout in the weekly magazine Marianne, in which some light was shed on a number of issues usually under-reported (or largely ignored) by the mainstream media in France.

Schools, hospitals, the police, La Poste, SNCF and others were treated to a pretty thorough analysis, as was one of the nation's "international stars", the utility giant Électricité de France.

It makes fascinating reading.

Electricity prices for households in France are among the lowest in the European Union, but that could well change over the coming few years with a cumulative hike of around 30 per cent forecast by 2017.


While the rest of France will have to live with the increase, employees - past and present - of EDF, essentially a "public" company, will retain some level of protection.

Yes EDF is still a "public" company.

Although it pretty much operates to all intents and purposes as what might be perceived a "private" company or "limited liability corporation", the state still retains almost 85 per cent ownership.

Anyway, that's rather an aside.

Or is it?

Because wielding so much potential political influence, surely successive governments (and not just the current one) should at least have tried to put an end to a practice which no longer seems to be warranted but also seems downright illogical and not to say unreasonable: the perks enjoyed by the company and its employees.

Since 1946 the company's 300,000 current and retired employees have benefitted from privileges that might have been equitable when introduced but surely now lack credibility.

There is for example the 90 per cent reduction in the amount they pay for each kilowatt-hour of electricity.

Put another way, as it was in a report from the Cour des comptes or Court of auditors in February 2013, EDF employees pay a price per kilowatt-hour that's 16 times less than the average cost to the public.

Confusing figures perhaps but they all add up.

And there's more.

EDF employees don't just pay lower prices for electricity for their main residences.

Oh no.

If they're lucky enough to own a holiday home, the same benefits apply. And even apparently when they rent a house for a couple of weeks while on vacation.

That annual €74 subcription charge? Waived.

In the end, says Marianne, "at such prices, heating a swimming pool (for EDF employees of course) works out less expensive than boiling an egg (would do for everyone else).

But for justification as to why such advantages have remained at current levels since 1951 for electricity and 1962 for gas (yes, for historical reasons employees at GDF-Suez are also treated as a special case) union bigwig at Confédération française démocratique du travail (French Democratic Confederation of Labour, CFDT) Dominique Bousquebaud,  has the following explanation.

Try not to choke as you read.

"The system compensates for the fact that the salaries in the public sector are lower than those in the private and it helps attract better qualified workers," he says.

"It's a way today to compensate for the lack of profit-sharing that can be found at a high level in all major private companies."

Except, once again as Marianne points out, the Cour des comptes says that in fact salaries at EDF are slightly higher than in the equivalent private sector.

There again what does the country's body for auditing public institutions know?

If you want to read more about the tax breaks, the money lost to social security and how successive government have done little or nothing to alter the privileged status of EDF and its employees, try getting your mitts on the May 11-17 copy of Marianne.

Happy reading.

Now does anyone know of an opening at EDF?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I work for EDF as contractor (prestataire) and I think overall the advantages you find in another company at qualified level (cadre) are better that at EDF.

E.g. They don't have ticket resto that are more handy than having a cantine. Their CE only pleases some profiles of people. Their mutuelle is highly bureaucratic and don't allow partners.
Their only big advantage is the job security.

I find the "tarif agent" you talk about here a pivilege, but I fail to see why people focuses so much in that to attack EDF employees. If you find that's a great reason to work for them, their recruiting site has plenty of job opportunities: Good luck! ;)

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