Unite in AXA reps attending the AXA European Works Council in Paris today, took the opportunity to raise the issue of the cost of living crisis and pay with AXA Group CEO Thomas Buberl.
This is what we said:
The cost of living crisis crisis is a trans-European issue. In many countries people are struggling with energy bills, the cost of food, increasing fuel prices, rising interest rates etc. The impact, of course, varies from country to country depending on the level of Government support and other factors, but regardless it is a major issue of an unprecedented scale faced by many AXA workers across the continent many who are now being forced to make extremely difficult choices this winter.
Like many financial institutions AXA reported a strong performance in the first half of 2022 with an increase in profits of 11% to €3.9 billion, following on from what you called an “excellent performance” the previous year with underlying earnings up 61% to €6.8 billion.
Whilst we appreciate you need to maintain strict controls on issues such as Solvency 2, the immediate negative impact of the cost of living crisis on many employees is such that it is not unreasonable for employee representatives such as ourselves to ask what actions AXA are taking to help its vulnerable workers across Europe and also ask that it give some more consideration to the problems the employees are facing, rather than the size of the dividend given to shareholders in 2023 or billion Euro share buy-backs.
When confronted with the reality that some employees of this company are faced with decisions about either switching on the heating or eating, and when others will be soon seeing increases in their mortgage payments that could well see them lose their homes, can it be right for a company as rich and as strong as AXA to enforce a real term pay cut on its employees by insisting its entities implement below inflation pay rises on the very workers who generate the “excellent performance” and generate the company’s multi-billion Euro profits through their hard work.
Please do not think the good will of the employees will last if you make them worse off in real terms at such a desperate time. There is a very big risk of them becoming disengaged negatively impacting company performance. There is a very big risk to their metal health which will negatively impact company performance. There is a major risk of skilled employees leaving negatively company performance
AXA is a good employer, it has a good reputation, please ensure that remains the case in 2023 by not penalising your employees by effectively cutting their pay with below inflation increases and negatively impacting their well being as well, just so the company can make a few million more Euros and pay the shareholders a few cents more.
Thomas Buberl responded: The cost of living crisis clearly concerns all of us. It is very frightening. AXA is a responsible employer and has taken action with financial support for less well off in France and UK, and will continue to look at this. AXA will address issue of inflation in current salary negotiations looking to balance short and medium term issues and we have no doubt will find a good solution through social dialogue.