Economy

in Roubaix, employees determined to fight to the end



“We are appealing to the State, to the region, but also to potential business leaders in the region or elsewhere. We have a worked out and costed project and two financial partners…” Thierry Siwik, CGT national delegate at Camaïeu, gives voice to mobilize the some 80 employees gathered in front of the headquarters of the ready-to-wear company, placed in compulsory liquidation on September 28 by the Commercial Court of Lille.

Among the 2,600 employees of the sign today on the floor, few have moved, out of resignation or because they are distributed throughout the national territory. Around 500 work in Roubaix, at the head office and in the warehouse. The union representative is convinced that the court’s decision was based on the fact that Michel Ohayon, the shareholder, had no financing plan. “But we had it and we can save 1,200 jobs, he said. You have to give it a shot! »

No more illusions

“Honestly, can we still wait for something? », asks Laurence, 56. This employee, who has worked in the warehouse for thirty-two years, no longer has many illusions. But with her colleagues present on Tuesday, October 4, she wants to get answers to a question: what has happened in the last two years?

At their side, Me Fiodor Rilov, who defended the employees of Goodyear, Continental or Bridgestone, explains to them that he will launch a referral 145 next week. The objective? “Establish a complete picture of what has happened over the past three years and collect thousands of documents, for example the transfers of funds between Camaïeu and the other companies in the group. We will then see if the shareholder has complied with his commitments.arrangements…”

Procedure to launch

The lawyer indicates that it is up to the employees to initiate the procedure for “this first battle for information and documentation, before obtaining compensation”. “We are in a hurry”, he warns them. If faults are established, employees may take legal action to obtain compensation for the damage suffered. While the lawyer continues his explanations, cars pass and honk in support of the employees, who will receive their dismissal letter in the coming days.

On Friday October 7, a meeting will be held to present the job protection plan (PSE) to the social and economic committee (CSE). It risks being, according to the lawyer, “at the level of the daisies, because the money recovered will first be used to pay the debts”in particular outstanding payments to suppliers and unpaid rent.

Questions about actions to take

On the sidelines of legal proceedings, elected union representatives are considering the actions to be taken. In front of ministries? In the city ? An employee hesitates: “What if we want to move on? », while another wonders about the financial cost of legal proceedings. “We lost our jobs, we have nothing more to lose”, says Emmanuel, twenty years old from Camaïeu, who can’t help but believe in a miracle…

“Me, I’m already going to send an email to the lawyer to start the procedure, says Cathy, from Arras. I have a husband who works, but I think of all the colleagues who are alone…” She plans to change branch, “because trade, pff…”. The employees also hope that the 25 million euros in sales for the last three days of activity will make it possible to feed supralegal redundancy bonuses. A small group enters the seat, calmly.

A feeling of betrayal

The employees feel betrayed by the Bordeaux businessman (La Grande Récré, Gap France, Go Sport, Galeries Lafayette franchises in the provinces, etc.) who took over their company in June 2020. “Frankly, I much prefer that the state gave nothing to this guy who takes advantage of the system”, says Sophie, sixteen years and seven months from Camaïeu.

Right next to her, the last general manager, Sandrine Lilienfeld, who arrived in February and is reputed to be close to the employees, came out of her office where she worked with the legal representatives: “This mark should not have disappeared. The employees are furious that they have been lied to all the time. Why did this shareholder buy Camaïeu if not to straighten it out? », she wonders, referring in particular to insufficient stocks in the store.

Worried about their future, Camaïeu employees fear cascading closures: “We are still the leader in women’s ready-to-wear, notes Thierry Siwik. What will it be for the others? »

————

The erosion of clothing sales

Since 2008, clothing sales have seen only one year of growthin 2017 (+ 0.6%, mainly driven by online sales), according to the Trade Alliance.

In 2019, the last reference year before the Covid-19 crisis, sales had fallen by a further 1.3% over one year. The French Fashion Institute (IFM) mentions a loss in value of 15% between 2007 and 2018.

In 2020, clothing and footwear accounted for 2.3% of household consumption expenditure, compared to 3.2% in 2010.

In 2022, store traffic is even lower 15% compared to 2019, according to Procos, the specialist trade federation.

According to a study published by IFM and panelist Kantar last May, 20% of clothing sales took place online in 2021, compared to 6% in 2009.



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