June 1, 2023

The research institute linked to the unions pinned down by the Court of Auditors

She hadn’t looked into it for twenty-five years. The Court of Auditors has scrutinized the Institute for Economic and Social Research (Ires) which it severely pinpoints in a report coupled with an interim order addressed to the Prime Minister who enjoins it to review its operation.

This frontal attack – are evoked “drifts [qui] could have called for jurisdictional qualifications” – affects a public body of a somewhat particular kind: inspired by the German model where the DGB has a research institute, it was created in 1982 by the CFDT, the CGT, FO , CFE-CGC, CFTC and Unsa-Education (ex. FEN), and CGT-FO.

funded by the state

Attached to the services of the Prime Minister, it is mainly financed by the State via a public subsidy, via France Strategy, in constant decline for ten years (-20% since 2010 to return to just under 2.9 million euros in 2021).

The Court of Auditors engages in vitriolic criticism. It considers that all the activities and the use of Ires funds are insufficiently controlled and the studies produced are not evaluated as they should be and they are insufficiently valued.

The institute works on two legs: a research center with a team directly attached to it whose staff has shrunk and, for just under half of the budget since 2017, a “goals agency” which pays funds to the trade unions so that they can finance their own studies.

No control

This second part of its activity is particularly targeted by the Court of Auditors. The latter criticizes the methods of distributing the funds between the organizations which is carried out not according to the cost of the studies envisaged, but on the basis of a lump sum fixed according to an immutable distribution key, the first three confederations receiving a little more than the others. She also points to the fact that these “generous endowments” are not subject to any control.

The Court’s investigation shows that certain studies are delivered more than a decade after being decided upon; a point on which Force Ouvrière is particularly targeted. The avenue du Maine confederation does not deny the problem but explains that it has taken hold of it and has made good progress in resolving the delay in several studies, specifying that it “is not a question of embezzlement but badly managed.

Particularly targeted FO

The Court of Auditors also criticizes the breakdown of expenditure between overheads, staff costs, distribution costs and exceptional costs which appears to vary greatly from one organization to another, but without it being possible to isolate the remuneration of the researchers. The Court of Auditors therefore went to take a closer look at several research contracts and found that the amounts paid to them may be much lower than the sums paid by Ires to the union.

The Court also underlines the very excessive weight of “overheads”. They oscillate between 31.2% for Unsa and 88% for the CFTC, while according to the Sages of rue Cambon, they should be 10% to 15%. They represent a total of more than 6 million euros out of the 10.5 million paid by Ires to the agency of objectives while, recalls the Court, these allocations “are intended to finance studies and not internal expenses trade unions”. Figures that Ires considers for its part “biased” in a press release that it issued on Thursday.

Split the Ires in two

Be that as it may, the Court of Auditors considers that the current operation must be reviewed because “such a situation cannot continue”. Among the six urgent measures that it deems necessary, there is in particular the fact of splitting the activity of Ires in two, the agency of objective being integrated into the social dialogue financing fund created in 2014.

A solution that the unions reject, emphasizing that this fund is managed jointly with employers and not by employee organizations alone.

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