Several hundreds of employees at world’s largest Champagne producer, Moët & Chandon, went on a strike last Wednesday for what they claim to be Moët’s refusal to pay them a tax-free bonus called “Prime Macron”.
Up to 95% of the production workers and 90% of Moet’s vineyard workers were on strike at the 278-year-old Champagne producer’s headquarters in Epernay on September 1, according to French media reports.
The payment is a tax-free annual bonus of €1000 paid by corporations to employees whose pay is less than three times the minimum wage. This was introduced after 2018’s “yellow vest” protests.
A spokesperson from Moët, which is owned by luxury group LVMH, says discussions are under way with the workers.
The bonus scheme was renewed this March but Alexandre Rigaud, delegate of the CGT, told local press that Moët does not want to continue the payment to staff.
“The employees do not understand that with the profits that are made at LVMH, the fortune of Mr. Arnault (LVMH owner)and the turnover at Moët et Chandon, the management does not want to pay it for a fair distribution of profits with the employees,” explained Rigaud, adding that the employees had received the “Prime Macron” in 2019 and 2020 for an amount of €800.
Moet is one of the most valuable wine estates for LVMH and produces around 30 million bottles of Champagne a year.
LVMH, the parent company of Moët, Dom Perignon, Veau Clicquot and Krug, earlier this year reported record profit for the first half of the year. The group recorded revenue of €28.7 billion in the first half of 2021, up 56% compared to the same period in 2020.
Its Wines & Spirits division recorded organic revenue growth of 44% in the first half of 2021 compared to the same period of 2020 and 12% compared to that of 2019.
Champagne volumes rose 10% compared to the first half of 2019, driven by the good momentum in Europe and the US. Hennessy cognac volumes increased by 6% compared to 2019, limited by supply constraints. China, which was the first market to have been impacted by the pandemic in early 2020, experienced a strong rebound over the first half of this year. Demand in the US held up well.
Altogether, LVMH has 23 wine and spirits estates. Aside from Champagne, it has wineries from Clos des Lambrays in Burgundy, Bordeaux’s Chateau d’Yquem, Cheval Blanc to Ardbeg, Glenmorangie and Cape Mentelle in Australia.