The National Federation of the French Mutuality (FNMF), the representative body of the majority of health mutuals in France, has announced plans to cut at least 62 jobs by July 2023 – just over a quarter of the workforce. The redundancy plan has been denounced by the staff representative body of the FNMF, the social and economic committee (CSE), which has criticised the ‘brutal’ character of the measures and the way they have been carried out, which ‘does not correspond with the values of the mutualist movement’.
In conjunction with French trade union organisations the CFDT, CFE-CGC, and Solidaires Sud Mutualité, the CSE has particularly targeted for attack Eric Chenut, President of the FNMF. According to the CSC, in December 2022 the board of directors agreed on a timeline of four years, rather than four months, for a gradual reduction of jobs and a return to a more balanced financial situation. The CSC accuses Chenut of now pursuing this far more contracted timeline due, in his own words, ‘to his own convictions’, and thus of being ‘less concerned about the working and health conditions of workers than he asserts publicly’. 59% of the employees who will potentially be made redundant are over 50 years old.
The French mutuelle system is a complementary, or ‘top-up’, health insurance to the basic state subsidisation of healthcare. Salaried workers are expected to take out a mutuelle insurance policy, and employers cover at least 50% of the cost. However, according to figures reported from the DREES, the official statistical service of the Ministry of Solidarity and Health, ‘the market share of mutuals has been gradually declining over the past few years […] as has the number of mutuals that are members of the federation. The membership fees paid by mutuals have also fallen in recent years.’ This situation, according to the FNMF, has led to a reduction in its financial resources.
A FNMF spokesperson stated: ‘This transformation of the company is aimed towards a simplification of the organisation and is being accompanied by a plan to safeguard jobs. Everything will be done to support the employees and to ensure that this transformation happens under the best possible conditions.’ However, the CSC and trade union delegates in the FNMF have called for the management to abandon the current plan in favour of one more respectful of the social and solidarity economy principles espoused by the mutualist movement. They also claim that this plan comes on the back of ‘serious occupational health problems [that] have been plaguing our daily life for many years’, including depression, harmful management methods and an overly heavy workload due to continuous reduction in staff numbers.