ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Propositions du Medef : une "provocation" pour les syndicats
Translated Tuesday 16 September 2014, by
No more holidays, and below-minimum-wage salaries, according to a working document of the MEDEF, the main bosses’ association, that has been published. The French trade unions have unanimously condemned a “provocation” by the bosses.
The working document, published on Sept. 15 by les Echos daily newspaper, contains proposals that the MEDEF is to make to the government on Sept. 24. On Twitter, the bosses’ association is somewhat calming the storm that is ready to rage; indicating that “this does not correspond exactly to the proposals that we will make." In the conclusion to this 50-page document, the MEDEF recognizes that these proposals might “certainly appear aggressive or exaggerated to some people”…
Thus the MEDEF thinks that eliminating two legal holidays out of eleven would make it possible to create 100,000 jobs. This allegation seems as solid as the million jobs promised by the bosses in return for the 40-billion-euro tax break.
The MEDEF is also proposing to gut the minimum wage by setting up a salary below the minimum for “the people who are least likely to get a job, and which might be supplemented by welfare benefits in order to guarantee purchasing power equivalent to the minimum wage.” The MEDEF is also demanding that the social thresholds (1) be raised, greater permissiveness with regard to night work and work on Sunday, and renewed unraveling of the 35-hour work week law for all companies.
The CGT and CFDT trade union confederations have condemned a “provocation” by the MEDEF, all the more so as the document has been leaked opportunely on the eve of the Prime Minister’s speech on general policy, which will be followed by a vote of confidence on that policy, a policy that includes lower taxes and social security contributions for corporations.
“Regarding the content of the measures, for the CFDT it is out of the question that we should engage ourselves on that terrain,” states general secretary Laurent Berger. “It’s gratuitous provocation,” for Philippe Louis of the CFTC trade union, too. “I don’t know what (the MEDEF) is playing at, are they trying to destabilize the government? The question bears asking. But if that’s what they’re up to, it’s really serious.” He continued: “the MEDEF “wants to drag everybody down, working hours, wages, work contracts.”
Jean-Claude Mailly of Force Ouvrière trade union confederation thought that the MEDEF was “being outrageous” with this document. “I was wondering if it wasn’t April Fool’s Day,” he stated on BFM TV, adding that the proposals were not acceptable for negotiation. “Maybe they (the bosses) feel exhilarated (to the degree) that lately the government has tended to respond greatly to their demands.” “You’ve got to work on Sunday, you’ve got to increase the social thresholds, you’ve got to increase the legal work week. What’ the next step, child labor?”
The reaction of Marie-George Buffet, French Communist Party deputy: “You had to read the newspaper ‘les Echos’ this morning to know the latest MEDEF diktat to ‘our’ government. After having been granted 40 billion euros to create jobs, which they spent on other things, the bosses are demanding more, always with the same pretext. This time it’s the workers gains that the MEDEF is instructing Mr. Valls and Mr. Hollande to attack. The 35-hour work week, the minimum wage, paid holidays are all in their sights now. The government has played the sorcerer’s apprentice in bowing down to the bosses, are they going to get down on their knees tomorrow? Once again, I ask them to choose: either they throw in the towel again in the face of the demands of the biggest French corporations, or else they respect the women and the men of this country!”
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(1) Hiring more workers at a company leads to crossing certain thresholds and increases a boss’s labor costs in terms of social contributions. There are three particularly important thresholds: 10, 20, and 50 employees (translator’s note).