Les organisations signataires
Helping the construction sector to bear the effects of the shortage of materials, the increase in their costs as well as that of energy prices: this is the goal of a joint declaration of sector solidarity signed, this 11 July 2022 together with the State , from 11 employers organizations (1) in construction and public works. This initiative aims to be the concrete extension of the constitution, in mid-2021, of a crisis committee gathered around the services of business mediation. The latter has just published, for the occasion, a first series of good practices which the signatory actors therefore subscribe to (the detailed list of which can be consulted by clicking here).

Promote the text also to public clients

“It is an important signature of an equally important sector”, welcomed Olivia Grégoire, newly appointed delegate minister for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and crafts. The challenge of this text is, according to her, a “to undermine this hellish cycle that the business Ombudsman knows well” in times of inflation, or price increases that affect the entire production and supply chain, which often ends up draining the cash flows of VSE-SMEs and at the same time slowing down the activity of large groups.

The meetings that have taken place for more than a year have therefore resulted in this declaration of intent, the purpose of which is to list the good practices and distribute them to as many people as possible. Despite everything, Olivia Grégoire recognized a blind spot: the absence of representatives of public buyers. To remedy this, the minister assures us that it will be there “a promotion of the declaration to public clients”.

In the event that the card is not respected by a player in the sector, he will be notified of a sort of call to order, referring to the commitment made today by the signatories. The idea is to send the actor the message that his behavior is not part of a solidarity approach, a fortiori in a delicate economic context for many companies. “Believe me, this alone can have an effect”assures Pierre Pelouzet, the business broker.

A first step …

Commercial mediation “will accompany the implementation of this declaration”reads a statement released on Monday 11 July 2022 by the Ministry of Economy. “In 2021, 18% of mediations were in the construction sector, up from 13% in 2020. Currently, this sector accounts for nearly 20% of mediation requests and requests.”

“It is a source of pride because it is the first time, I believe, that the upstream representatives of a sector have agreed to work together”, adds Pierre Pelouzet. According to him, the card sends a message: “In the face of the surge in prices, we cannot do as before. When all goes well, we can pass the increase to our neighbor, but when things stop, we enter the balance of power, which creates chain tensions”.

Among the strengths of the document, the list of good practices to be adopted and bad ones to avoid, but also the “big work” carried out on indices and price indices “which did not necessarily reflect current reality”adds the Business Ombudsman. “The crisis committee allowed this sector agreement by identifying the actors who didn’t necessarily play the game and we can say it worked well; the simple act of summoning the committee was apparently enough to change behavior!”the Business Ombudsman is delighted.

Before qualification: “This is only a first list, we will continue to promote these good practices. It is a balanced and evolving text. The work continues”.

… before the Assises du BTP in September

Future Construction and Public Works Conferences must make this possible “lead to a clear strengthening of solidarity in the sector serving our customers and employment in France, with the support of the state”asks Olivier Salleron, president of the French Construction Federation (FFB), in a press release released the same day.

It should be noted, however, that unanimity has not been reached on this pledge charter. In particular, the Confederation of crafts and small construction companies (CAPEB) refrained from signing the document, while expressing its solidarity. The reason: the text would not go far enough on support for VSE-SMEs. The organization regrets in particular the absence of a “possible notice period to warn companies in advance of future price increases”as can be seen in a press release released today. “We can only be satisfied with the work that has been done for a year”, acknowledged Jean-Christophe Repon, its president, during a press conference held in Bercy. But he also points out that the device partly lacks its intentions towards the artisans, the VSE-SMEs. “We find the approach cold. This is why we are present, in solidarity but not signatories”.

“The text is a declaration of good intentions, a reference to positive law, without any constraints”

The National Federation of Public Works (FNTP), despite having signed the Charter that allows the proposal of attitudes of solidarity, considered that the text did not sufficiently take into account the idea of ​​supporting the activity of companies, beyond just the problems of inflation. “The text is a declaration of good intentions, a reference to positive law, without any constraints”judges the general director of the federation, Julien Guez. “Our topic is the fight against inflation, but also the continuation of business. And I insist more on supporting the business than on fighting inflation, because otherwise we risk inflation AND recession.”

Also present at the negotiating table was the president of the CNATP (National Chamber of Public Works and Landscape Crafts) Françoise Desprez felt that the attention could not be concentrated only on public procurement: “To support our companies and our employees, we would also like measures on private markets”reacted.

Support VSE-PMI

This signature symbolizes, explains the Minister of Economy Bruno Le Maire, the launch of the Assises du BTP, long awaited by the sector. “I will meet the players in the sector next September to announce the first measures in terms of economic balance of operations, simplification and ecological transition”, ensures. Public authorities hope that this first declaration of commitment will improve relations between the various actors, in particular by supporting VSE and SMEs.

While the Business Ombudsman will continue his mission of conciliation and leadership of the crisis committee, the Government therefore already wants to send a “very strong signal” to the construction sector to encourage dialogue. And to prepare for the next shot: the Assises du BTP, which should be held at the beginning of the school year. “These Assizes must surely be a moment of movement”says Olivia Gregoire. “We want this document to be the start of something, perhaps a national construction council where we meet regularly.”adds Olivier Salleron.

It will be understood, all the actors, signatories or not of this charter of good conduct, bet a lot on these famous meetings of the BTP. Bercy seems to have understood this: “From the beginning of the school year, in the context of the Assizes, the actors will be able to go further by continuing on the issues, for example of the energy transition. The Assizes will allow the ecosystem actors to see which measures could be brought in bills”concluded the minister.

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