When management thanked its employees for working extra hard during the lockdown, engineers at Nokia France did not immediately see the double meaning. They hadn't been counting their hours to catch up with the group's technological lag behind their 5G competitors. Among them: 700 young engineers, newly recruited by Nokia to strengthen the research and development (R&D) teams. Fabien, a young CGT member, is one of them. He marched this Thursday in the company of nearly a thousand demonstrators in Nozay, in Essonne, where 831 jobs are threatened. "We have the feeling that we have been used, that we are subjected to the decisions of bankers, not industrialists, he laments. For the past two years, they have been leaving engineering schools to promise us a job in a sector of the future, 5G. Some of us took loans to buy here, deep in Essonne. Then, we are thrown … "
The future promised to be bright …
The hiring of these young engineers was one of the twelve commitments made in 2015 to Emmanuel Macron, then Minister of the Economy, so that he authorizes the sale of Alcatel, its technologies and patents, to Nokia. This commitment was the only one respected. But who said hiring obviously did not imply the sustainability of their jobs. However, these new graduates are working on the new generation of mobile network technologies which are starting to be deployed around the world and on cybersecurity, the needs of which are constantly growing. The future promised to be bright, since their employer has still received nearly 280 million euros in research tax credit since 2015 and the Chinese supplier Huawei has been banned from many countries, opening up Nokia to many markets, if only in France where contracts are signed with all operators. These promises were shattered at the sudden and unexpected announcement of the dismissal of a third of the workforce in France, the vast majority of whom were engineers, in the R&D sector: 831 in Essonne and 402 in Lannion, in Brittany. .
On the parking lot of the Nozay site, under a banner displaying "Tragic ball at Nokia, 1,233 dead", Claude Josserand, central CGT union delegate for another month, is about to speak to summarize the employees gathered the last committee social and economic (CSE), which was held the day before. The trade unionist, a former Alcatel who joined Nokia during the takeover, is part of the previous social plan, which mainly focused on administrative and customer support services. The engineer initially volunteered to save a younger colleague's job. After two years of reclassification leave, he will be able to retire at a serious discount. While he is due to be fired in November, he finds himself once again on the front lines to fight this fourth layoff plan. "We constantly have two overlapping 'job saving plans', making it almost impossible to track how many jobs are actually lost, he explains. Employees leave with different conditions, a few months apart. For this plan, management wants to settle everything in the year 2021. "
"We are asking for the plan to be canceled, because all Alcatel alumni like me, who are 45 or 50 years old, will not find a job like that, especially in France where, if Nokia is no longer there, the telecom sector will disappear. " Christophe Civit, elected CFDT
From the last central CSE, however, nothing concrete has come out. The French management abuses the language of wood, while the government, which has ruled "Unacceptable" this new redundancy plan no longer communicates on its discussions with the CEO. “It has been learned that the Secretary of State for Industry is having meetings these days with the Finnish management of the group. We hope that something will come out, but we don't know what's on the table, reports Christophe Civit, elected CFDT. We are asking for the plan to be canceled, because all Alcatel alumni like me, who are 45 or 50 years old, will not find a job like that, especially in France where, if there is no longer Nokia, the sector telecoms will disappear. "
A relocation that does not speak its name
The management of the group is confined to two explanations. Her cash flow has fallen by 3.5 billion euros in two years, she complains. Exactly the amount she paid in dividends over the same period. The group claims "Defragment" his teams, too scattered around the globe, according to him. A relocation that does not speak its name, retort the unions, since the 1,200 jobs eliminated in France will be recreated in India, China and Eastern Europe …
“We are not fighting just to save our jobs! protests Claude Josserand. We denounce a real resignation of public authorities. The government refuses to impose compensation on companies in exchange for its aid. We are proof that incentive alone does not work. His helpers are just creating windfall, with our cash! Our struggle must make this understood to the public, it is our hope to make things happen. " At his side, Laurent Richard, who succeeds him as central CGT union delegate at Nokia, engages: “Behind these stock market layoffs, they are killing a strategic sector for France. With Alcatel-Alstom, we had an entity at the forefront of telecommunications, energy and transport. There is hardly any left. "
After the demonstration, employees were invited to a carpentry workshop to cut 831 life-size wooden silhouettes symbolizing the number of jobs at risk. Their colleagues from Lannion had marched earlier in the week, brandishing the 402s of theirs, and the striking photos made their way to Nozay. "In October, we would like to collect all these figures, plant them on a beach in Brittany and perhaps film them with a drone, so that we can visualize the extent of the social breakdown", considers Laurent Richard.