They feel "despised". Mobilized for more than a month at the call of a large inter-union (CGT, CFDT, CFTC, Solidarity, Unsa, FO), the customs ensure that they will continue the movement until Gérald Darmanin finally agrees to the hear. But, for the time being, their supervisory minister "has not given any news since the last meeting on March 12", explains Yann Kerhervé, Interregional Secretary Ile-de-France of the National Union of Customs Agents (Snad) CGT. A meeting that ended in failure, the Minister of Public Accounts stubbornly put on the table only a general increase of 50 euros and a minimum revaluation of night hours, when customs officials continue to require a general salary increase of 100 euros net monthly. In sum, summarizes Yann Kerhervé, "we are not in a negotiation, we face an executive who refuses to move an iota".
The fluidity of the traffic takes precedence over the efficiency of the controls
So, to make their voices heard, customs officers decided to take action. And to put ministry and general management in charge of their responsibilities, they have chosen to apply to the letter the regulations that define their mission. In short, to act by the zeal to prove the daily difficulties, the lack of manpower and the lack of means. "If we strictly follow the instructions, search, or X-ray baggage, operations are necessarily longer and queues at airports or at the Gare du Nord, unmanageable," says Yann Kerherve . A paradoxical situation where the fluidity of the traffic finally takes precedence over the efficiency of the controls. This permanent pressure on the "flow" of goods and passengers contributes to the deterioration of the quality of life at the customs officers' work. "Our working conditions are a real concern and Gérald Darmanin conceded himself that some of our premises were" unworthy "", adds the trade unionist. Added to this are "bullet-proof vests that are not stored in good conditions, which degrades the materials, customs trainees who have at their disposal for one year only two pants and three shirts …". In short, "it's been years that alert and nothing moves", regrets Yann Kerhervé.
In this context, the eventuality of Brexit was "the straw that broke the camel's back." And the increase in the workload inherent in restoring a border with Britain has been, according to the unions, underestimated by the government. "We have the feeling that our administration has built on the fact that the Brexit was never going to take place, without anticipating the increase in the workload that this represents", continues the CEO, who explains: "At the station of the North for example, which hosts the Eurostar to London, the computer terminals for tax refund operations were installed just ten days ago and customs officers have been trained neither on their use nor on the type of products that will now have to be taxed. As another example, "the Calais office, which is specifically dedicated to cross-Channel traffic as part of a UK exit from the European Union, has just been taken out of the ground, the equipment is not yet put into service. ", Explains Yann Kerhervé. The ministry, meanwhile, retorts that a hiring plan of 750 agents over three years has been implemented precisely to overcome the workload generated by the Brexit. But "most of these hirings are actually used to plug the holes that there are in the services, particularly in the Paris region and on the Roissy platform," retorts the CGT.
On Monday, the union extended its strike notice, which now runs until "April 30 inclusive," and calls for a meeting in Bercy. "The ball is in the camp of our leaders," says Inter. Faced with "a ministry and a general director (who) delight in the dissemination of unofficial and contradictory messages", the unions demand "written and quantified proposals" as well as the opening of a real negotiation. To maintain the pressure, a rally is scheduled for Thursday morning in Montreuil, in front of the headquarters of the Directorate General of Customs.