2016, the Year of all Negotiations for the ONF

Christian Dubreuil
2016, the Year of all Negotiations for the ONF

2016 is a crucial year for the French Forests Office (ONF). The ONF is preparing the next five years. To do this, it has to negotiate with all the parties involved.

The newly signed goals and performance contract (GPC) 2016-2020 is just another beginning for the French Forests Office (ONF). This roadmap, which binds the State, the ONF and the National Federation of Forest Municipalities (FNCOFOR), was adopted by the ONF board of directors on December 17, 2015. It still has to be signed by the supervising Ministers and by the FNCOFOR.

Following a year marked by lengthy negotiations, the ONF is now preparing for a series of discussions as well as contracting with relevant stakeholders, including those who voted against the GPC.

With the staff representatives

“We have opened negotiations within the meaning of the Labour Code with 10 trade unions out of 11”, said Christian Dubreuil, CEO of the ONF, during his greetings to the press, January 12, 2016. The Snupfen voted against the COP. The trade union is also boycotting current 2016 discussions.

The COP 2016-2020 relies on the stabilisation of the workforce, while it previously eroded. The ONF plans to increase its staff of 9,113 to 9,313 between 2015 and 2020. But this overall objective gives an increasing share to assisted jobs, which will double to 551 in 2020. In the meantime, civil servants, contract agents and workmen would see their ranks lose 100 jobs, to settle at 8,762 full-time equivalents in 2020.

However, Christian Dubreuil considers these developments as a way to “achieve a generational change, in the light of the ageing of our workforce”.

The 2016-2020 contract of the French Forests Office (ONF) – photo credit: Forestopic

With environmental associations

France Nature Environment (FNE) also voted against the GPC 2016-2020. The federation  of environmental NGOs views this five-year contract as “an environmentally-limited ambition that does not reflect what the public forest management is”.

In the eyes of the ONF director, this “no” is “a disappointment and a surprise”. But not a breaking off: “We will maintain a high level of collaboration with FNE”, he says.

With local authorities

On the local authorities’ side, the timber resources have emerged as an item for discussion. The GPC sets a target of 15 million m3 of timber sales in 2020:
-including 8.5 million m3 from the community forests;
- and 6.5 million m3 from State-owned forests.

The year 2016 should see the updating of the Forest Charter, as well as the assessment of a community forests grouping scenario, and the conclusion of a memorandum of understanding for the marketing of public forests timber involving the ONF, the FNCOFOR and the French Federation of Timber (FNB).

Furthermore, the national plan for forest and timber is to be finalised in the coming weeks and will have to be implemented on the local level.

With the upstream and downstream sector

Contracting also applies to downstream sector and trade organisations. Christian Dubreuil explains:

“We, producers, must ensure [the presence of] transformers. And our users need to secure their supply, especially to invest. Hence the objective of better contractual relations.”

In this context, the ONF wants to see increased sales of cut wood. Payment deadlines for wood remain a pending issue, to be discussed with the FNB.

In addition, the ONF plans to develop partnerships with Water Agencies and conclude an agreement with the future French Agency for Biodiversity “in the year following its creation”.

In doing so, the public institution must also reduce its debt.

Chrystelle Carroy/Forestopic