Fuel shortage: what is the “Dracula strategy”?

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On Tuesday, October 18, at the end of a day of national strike, the CGT proposed a renewal of the movement in the refineries. “Beyond the refiners and the 14,000 TotalEnergies employees, we also carry the voice of those who suffer from the fact that wages do not keep up with inflation and who see winter coming with promises of higher fuel prices. ‘energy or food,’ said Eric Sellini, national coordinator of the CGT refineries, as reported by La Voix du Nord.

Between TotalEnergies and the strikers, a dialogue of the deaf seems to have been going on for several months now and a solution does not seem to be emerging for the moment. Aurélien Colson, professor of political science at ESSEC Business School, where he heads the Institute for Research and Education on Negotiation, calls for more transparency in dialogues and defends the “Dracula strategy”.

“It’s a very useful negotiation tactic when faced with an interlocutor in bad faith, who braces himself on manifestly excessive demands, or else persists in not arguing his proposals.”, he explains to Planet .

This method of negotiation “consists in making him understand that the position he is defending in this way ‘between 4 eyes’ would undoubtedly be untenable in the eyes of a wider public”, develops the expert. Thus, this strategy is thus useful when third parties come into play. These may as well be “colleagues within a company, or public opinion in a negotiation of general interest”, as it is in this case, clarifies Aurélien Colson.

In other words, the principle of the “Dracula strategy” is based on total transparency, thanks to which “the recalcitrant negotiator is put on notice to explain himself, to provide arguments, to justify his requests”, adds the professor , before adding that “it empowers the dynamics of negotiation.”

This strategy seems to have been proven, but in the case of the refinery strike, did Total make the right use of it?

For the director of Essec’s Institute for Research and Education on Negotiation, the “Dracula strategy” works better “when it is mentioned as a possible remedy, rather than being immediately put into execution. ” However, it is exactly the opposite that has been done by the company Total which has resorted to this tactic by revealing the average salaries of refinery operators.

From now on “the CGT would do well to line up there for the good of the employees and that of our fellow citizens who need fuel to circulate freely”, estimates Aurélien Colson.

This strategy is regularly used in negotiations. But where does its strange name come from?

The name of this tactic recalls that of a famous vampire, and this is no coincidence. “This ‘lighting’ echoes one of the ways, it seems, to get rid of a vampire: exposing it to broad daylight reduces it to ashes”, explains the expert.

The first use of this term dates back to 1998 “during negotiations for a Multilateral Agreement on Investment (AMI). Lori Wallach, director of the NGO Global Trade Watch, testified before the House of Representatives in the States States: ‘The AMI is a political Dracula that does not resist the light of day'”, relates Aurélien Colson. Vampires are thus a subject of inspiration, even in the middle of the negotiation.