Towards the end of cashiers, one of the last trades accessible without experience or qualification


A battery of self-service crates, next to which a "cash coach" offers advice to the client: the model spreads like a wildfire, threatening a trade born with the boom of large retailers in the 60s .

"It kills the job! ", rebels Évelyne (first names have been changed), 30 years of cash at Carrefour in Paris. "And it's not human. You say hello, you, to the robot? " In front of her, Jeanine, 80, approves vigorously. "They have completely redone the store and sometimes we have only open boxes. We must always go fast, fast, but they think of us, old people? "

On her back, a young woman's ear screwed to the mobile phone resolutely takes the direction of the automatic boxes, passes two melons to the scanner and pays without even hanging up. "It has become commonplace, half of the stores are equipped with automatic cash boxes"says Daniel Ducrocq, distribution specialist at Nielsen. The firm estimates that 10% of the turnover of supermarkets passes through automatic cash registers.

We find them massively in local supermarkets where the urban customer is looking for "Troubleshooting" at any time. Because the automated boxes can open cheaply evening or night, or bypass the law prohibiting food supermarkets to employ employees on Sunday after 1 pm.

Last Sunday, in Angers, some 200 protesters protested against the opening in the afternoon of a Casino hypermarket equipped only with automatic cash registers. A first for a hyper, but a practice established " without difficulty " in 82 Casino supermarkets, says the group.

"The automation of the collection systems inevitably leads to a decrease in the number of cashiers"observes Jean Pastor, central CGT delegate of Casino. "We are not arrears, we know very well that there is an evolution, but the question is what do we want for work for tomorrow? " "If it is done by machines, I have no problem, there are repetitive trades. On the other hand, it is necessary that the productivity gained can serve the collective good, that is to say that the cashier part-time passes full time and can do something else in the company ".

What about "Human" ?

Furthermore "Wages carry a whole lot of benefits, social security, family allowances …" He recalls. The president of the Chamber of Trades and Crafts, Bernard Stalter, evokes him a "Danger for our social model"and claims "A robot tax".

Over the past decade, the number of cashiers has dropped by 5 to 10%, with 150,000 full-time equivalent jobs today, according to the Federation of Commerce and Distribution (FCD).

In question, automation, but also the crisis of hypermarkets. "It's the circuit that's doing worse, and the one that employs the most cashiers" Daniel Ducrocq observes.

Studies in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom estimate that 10 to 30% of jobs should be concerned by digital development, notes the FCD. However, "Such an evolution is not inevitable"provided that the employees are "Trained in new services that consumers will expect" says the federation.

Fewer cashiers, but more sellers, department managers, employees in security … Daniel Ducrocq highlights the «Link» with the performance: "Stores that have employees work well. "

The" human "comes prominently in the speeches of the big retailers. Thus, Dominique Schelcher (System U) ensures that "People want to talk with a cashier, meet a butcher who will give them advice …"

Mélissa, a cashier at Monoprix, assures that the automatic cash registers have resulted in "Fewer hours of work for us. And there are not more sellers on the shelves. It kills the job, the people who use it to go faster do not realize ".

The transformation of the job of cashier seems inevitable, posing a training challenge: it is one of the last trades accessible without experience or qualification.

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