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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Le Medef revote la confiance

by Thomas Lemahieu

French Bosses’ Association Renews Vote of Confidence

Translated Wednesday 27 August 2014, by Gene Zbikowski

Pierre Gattaz and his friends close ranks behind Hollande and Valls. They’re demanding a “coherent” government … that adopts the policy that they dictate!

Just before the opening of their summer conference, the bosses are relieved. No need to redo the conference program at the last minute. The government has resigned, but Manuel Valls, scheduled to appear at the opening of the conference early in the afternoon on Aug. 27, is to remain prime minister. And as icing on the cake, his speech, which promises to top the audience rating, may well be used to fork out new gifts to companies.

In the place of the minister for the economy and finance, in place of Arnaud Montebourg – who until now had been regularly invited by the bosses to plead the cause of the “holy unity” (1) of all behind the banner of “economic patriotism” – it is the German minister for finance, Wolfgang Schäuble that the MEDEF [the main bosses’ association] has chosen to invite…

Everything’s going fine for Pierre Gattaz and his comrades. A short hour before the surprise resignation of the Valls government, on the morning of Aug. 25, on France Inter radio, Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux, the vice-president of the MEDEF, was taking pot shots at the “dissidents” in the name of the eternal “economic pedagogy,” which, on his lips, is just another name for neo free-trade-ism.

Without forgetting to defend the hike in dividends that has been noted this year – up 30% in the second quarter of 2014 – in the name of the necessary “retribution of capital,” the number two man at the bosses’ association launched into a thorough-going attack on those who balk at the 41 billion euros granted, without demanding anything in exchange, to companies.

“To say that we should set off as before, that we should run up the deficit again – that’s what Arnaud Montebourg is implicitly saying – no, that’s not a good idea,” de Bézieux said. “I believe that the political course that François Hollande has chosen is the right one. We think we need to go faster and more strongly. Arnaud Montebourg wants to make a bit of a show for the return from summer holidays; very well, but what counts is the declaration made by the French president and by Manuel Valls.”

A little later, the bosses seemed a smidgen less confident in their press statement reacting to the resignation of the Valls government: “The MEDEF hopes that the economic policy in favor of the competitiveness of companies, announced at the beginning of the year and whose initial measures were just voted in July and are to come into force in 2015, will be confirmed.”

By calling on the French government to “go further” and to “raise the barriers that block the creation of jobs in our country” – meaning, the restrictions on work on Sunday, government control of apprenticeships, company social cost thresholds (2), etc. – the MEDEF directed by Pierre Gattaz is calling, with the same adjectives as those used by François Hollande, for a “new government” which will be “coherent, determined, and will act rapidly.”

(1) “Holy unity” was the justification used by the French socialists in voting to support the French war effort in World War I (translator’s note).

(2) Hiring more workers at a company leads to crossing certain thresholds and increases a boss’s costs in terms of social contributions. There are three particularly important thresholds: 10, 20, and 50 employees (translator’s note).

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