The descent into hell of Scopelec, the largest cooperative in France

The descent into hell of Scopelec, the largest cooperative in France

The white vans of the Scopelec technicians are part of the landscape of our field. They are often the ones who disembark with their gondolas when the Internet goes down and an old wooden telephone pole has collapsed under the onslaught of the Autan or Mistral winds. But until when? On Tuesday night, the Lyon commercial court placed France’s largest cooperative, and its remaining 2,600 employees, up from 3,600 a year ago, in receivership.

For this large Orange subcontractor, created in 1973 in Revel, in the Haute-Garonne, one of whose main sites is today in Saint-Orens, on the outskirts of Toulouse, the nightmare, “the tsunami”, began in November 2021 When the operator, which turned to Scopelec for fiber laying and network maintenance, withdrew one of its usual markets, specifically in Occitanie, alleging that the service was not optimal. Orange preferred a Luxembourg company, suddenly depriving its historic subcontractor of 40% of its turnover from March 2022.

So it all came together for the cooperative. In June 2022, a June social plan recorded the elimination of 550 jobs, not counting voluntary redundancies, over time.

political impotence

However, Scopelec and his employees, today “disgusted and annoyed”, do not lack political support. After the presidency of Occitania, the socialist Carole Delga, all the main local elected officials have defended the cause of the cooperative before the State, a 23% shareholder of Orange. On September 19, it was François Ruffin who came with the LFI deputies from Haute-Garonne in support of Saint-Orens. Saint-Orens whose former mayor is none other than Dominique Faure (Renaissance), the new Secretary of State for Rurality. According to our information, the employees even spoke with Bruno Le Maire. And the macronist deputies, like Monique Iborra, are not saved.

Despite all this pressure, negotiations with Orange were unsuccessful. The commercial court of Lyon could not rely in particular on the 20 million euros of debt forgiveness of Orange, a time mentioned in the negotiations. “They lowered us”, plagiarizes a union source.

orange assumes

But Orange assumes. “Months ago we committed to a debt cancellation to support any viable and sustainable Scopelec plan, and today, unfortunately, we have been forced to see that no such plan was presented,” he explains to 20 minutes Marc Blanchet, technical and information systems director of the operator. Our responsibility to our clients, and our financial responsibility, he adds, is not to put up 20 million euros and find ourselves on the wall in three months, or in six months. »

The operator also tends to say that he left him to withdraw maintenance that 80% of France is equipped with fiber and that Scopelec has toujours des contrats avec lui, for 90 million euros for an en moyenne, « et pour les six ans they come.”

If Scopelec survives the “tsunami”. In a press release, the cooperative indicates this Wednesday that “companies that request the partial or total takeover of activities have until November 2 to appear before the court.” One month left to save at least part of an economic adventure and an original model. Scopelec employees own 75% of its capital and have a proportional weight in decisions.

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