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Commission Tripartite du Champagne (established 1919)

The Champagne Houses joined forces under the banner of the UMC in 1882 but their concern for the wellbeing of employees and their families started long before that. Individual Houses competed with each other in their drive to develop a form of social responsibility - a progressive, dutiful approach to welfare that was way ahead of its time. Thanks to the generous charitable support offered by the Champagne Houses in those days their employees enjoyed a social status superior to other workers.
Today their employees have the benefit of the "Statut de la Convention Collective du Champagne": a regional amendment to the national agreement covering the wholesale tier of the wine, spirits and soft drinks industry (CNVS, Convention Nationale des Industries et Commerces en Gros des Vins, Cidres, Spiritueux, sirops, jus de fruits et boissons diverses see 2013 branch report.
The UMC is a direct member of the national committee for wines and spirits (Conseil National des Vins et Spiritueux CNVS.

In 1886, the Champagne Houses took action to improve the social status of workers by helping to fund the creation of the Secours Mutuel des Ouvriers des Caves de Reims (Reims cellarmen mutual aid society, now the Corporation des Tonneliers & Cavistes).

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The Hôpital Auban-Moët in Épernay, and Rheims’ historic Hôtel de la Mutualité plus the summer camp on the Ile de Ré sponsored by Taittinger are continuing reminders of the long-standing welfare tradition of the Champagne Houses.

The year 1919 saw the setting-up of two joint commissions for dialogue, one in Reims, the other in Epernay, each one designed to reflect the different earnings and social benefits enjoyed in each location. The Epernay commission was presided over by Robert-Jean de Vogüé, President of the House of Moët & Chandon, who was awarded the gold medal at the 1900 Universal Exhibition for his social initiatives: free medical care, financial support for the sick, family support, housing, social funding, gardens, legal aid, pensions ...

Thanks to this constructive dialogue between employers and workers, the Champagne industry was one of the few sectors to escape the social upheavals that rocked French industry in 1936. With goodwill on both sides, the social status of Champagne House employees was determined for the very first time under the provisions of a so-called "contrat collectif". This laid the framework for the "Convention collective" that was eventually adopted by other areas of employment in the fifties, and which still provides the basis of social dialogue in France .

The dark years of the German Occupation of France between 1940 and 1945 served to strengthen bonds that were forged between employers and employees under the auspices of the Commission Tripartite du Champagne. One particularly memorable incident occurred in November 1943, following the arrest of Moët & Chandon President, Robert-Jean de Vogüé. Certain members of the Commission sent out a now famous circular calling all Champagne employees out on strike - a brave stand but Vogüé was deported just the same later that month. Among the foremost leaders of the Champagne employee movement were Gaston Martin and Maurice Leflond who in 1936 spearheaded a rich and fruitful process of social dialogue between employers and employees.

After the war, the Commission Tripartite continued its efforts on behalf of Champagne employees, gradually achieving significant increases in salaries (earnings and bonus payments) and benefits (pensions and insurance cover in case of illness, hospitalisation, layoff, death, etc).

Eventually four separate pieces of legislation were laid down stipulating the entitlements of four categories of employee: Ouvriers des Vignes (vine workers), Agents d’Encadrement (supervisors), Ouvriers des caves (cellar workers) and Maitrise-Employés- Cadres de bureaux (administrative and management staff). In May 1981, these four texts were combined into a single piece of overarching legislation called the "Statut Social des Salariés du Champagne" (the social status of Champagne employees). Simpler and easier to enact, this new ruling won the approval of all Champagne employees, particularly those responsible for enforcing its provisions.

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In 1986 the Convention Collective Champagne(CCC) was made binding upon all Champagne production companies (including non-UMC members) by the decree of 6 June of the Ministers of Agriculture and Social Affairs. The terms negotiated entitled Champagne workers to many social benefits, such as early retirement for employees who started their working life very young (implemented in Champagne 15 years ahead of the 2003 early retirement agreement). Provision was also made for the extension of social welfare and the raising of minimum wages for Champagne workers.

Since the end of the 20th Century, Champagne employers have thought of their employees as partners and have been represented at Tripartite negotiations by a specialist on social dialogue (appointed by the Champagne Houses from the ranks not from board level). This new arrangement has made it possible:

  • to bring all Champagne Houses into line with the generous benefits package available to employees within the framework of the Tripartite;
  • to negotiate further agreements (such as the adoption of the 35-hour week in 1999 without a drop in pay).

As we head into the 21st Century, both sides make a concerted effort to maintain a strong employer-employee relationship. Each Champagne House deals directly with its employee representatives, looking to develop positive workplace relationships that promote staff development, training and career advancement.

The Tripartite consultation between employers and trade unions continues to update the basic statutory rights that are available to employees of all businesses whose principal activity is to produce and/or market Champagne. The Tripartite meets at least once a year to negotiate the minimum rates of pay and minimum level of benefits to which those employees are legally entitled (without prejudice to any more favourable entitlement that may be granted by the Champagne House’s internal dialogue).

These statutory rights do not apply in the case of businesses whose principal activity remains agricultural ("propriétaires- récoltants" or owner-growers) as their employees are covered by the collective agreement concerning wine holdings in the delimited Champagne appellation area ( "Convention collective des Exploitations Viticoles de la Champagne Délimitée"), under the auspices of the Commission Mixte Viticole (wine-growing joint committee) whose designated employer representatives are appointed by the Syndicat Général des Vignerons de la Champagne.

The Commission Tripartite du Champagne is composed of three groups of delegates representing the following:

  • employers whose principal business activity is "Champagnisation" and/or the marketing of Champagne wine (APE 15.9 F and G) within the Champagne AOC area;
  • the five trade unions representing employees of the Régime Vinicole Général SS,
  • the five trade unions representing employees of the Régime Viticole Agricole MSA.

Presidents of the Commission Tripartite du Champagne since its inception:

2005 Patrick MOLLIEN Laurent-Perrier – Mumm & Perrier-Jouët
1999 Claude FOURNIER
1998 Alain THIENOT Thiénot
1986 Michel KAIQUE Piper Heidsieck
1973 Paul BERGEOT Besserat de Bellefon
1966 François d’AULAN Piper Heidsieck
1956 Charles Christian HEIDSIECK Charles Heidsieck
1942 René CHAYOUX Ayala
1930-1940 Robert-Jean de VOGUË Moët & Chandon

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