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CGT: For Lepaon, Hollande “is Following in Sarkozy’s Footsteps.”

Translated Thursday 28 February 2013, by Gene Zbikowski

“The vocabulary doesn’t matter. Hollande is following in Sarkozy’s footsteps. He also thinks that labor is a cost that must be lowered.” The future general secretary of the CGT trade union confederation, Thierry Lepaon, attacks government policy on Feb. 10.

In an interview with the newspaper Journal du dimanche, he castigates the free-trade policy conducted by François Hollande and the Ayrault government. “The government has thus found 20 billion euros for the corporations, following a phone call from Laurence Parisot (the head of the bosses’ association MEDEF) while he refuses to raise the minimum wage. It’s the opposite of his election campaign promises regarding social justice,” he said, referring to the competitiveness tax credit.

Bad job security agreement

The designated successor to Bernard Thibaut again condemned the job security agreement which he describes as “very bad.” “The government had committed itself to making permanent job contracts the norm again, to favoring jobs for youth, and to making jobs secure. But with this agreement, the employers have made lay-offs secure, and the workers have no guarantee except that of seeing their wages fall and giving up on going to court.”

Thierry Lepaon calls on the deputies of the governing majority, “elected on the basis of an election platform, which the [job security] agreement does not respect” not to write it into law, and demands “different negotiations (…) against precarious work and for a real industrial policy.”

Thierry Lepaon responds to Laurent Berger.

In this interview, he also retorts to his future alter ego at the CFDT trade union confederation, Laurent Berger, for having declared that the CGT shares responsibility for the closing of the Goodyear factory in Amiens Nord. He considers Berger’s words ‘unworthy.” “When you’re a trade unionist, you don’t put the victims and the assassins, the workers who are fighting back and the multinationals that are making profits, at the same level. It’s a youthful mistake. To say such a thing, you can’t have been through a single downsizing plan in your life.”

A law against profit-boosting layoffs.

Thierry Lepaon also reaffirmed the need to pass a law against so-called profit-boosting layoffs, “so that the government will not let the industrial corporations decide alone on the industrialization, and especially the deindustrialization of our country.” Here again he makes a cutting remark to the government, saying that the “government is just accompanying the downsizing” and has “no industrial policy.” “As with the previous government, when you ask them what their priorities are, no minister knows what answer to make,” he said.

Valls’ provocation

As to fears of a radicalization of labor conflicts, he says that “in publishing a warning circular, [Interior Minister Manuel] Valls is “fanning the flames” and “feeding a process of provocation that says that workers are the same as rioters.” The police intelligence services have recently received instructions to keep “a close eye on” ailing companies in order to forestall a “radicalization” of labor conflicts.

“Our desire is not to riot, it is to improve the condition of workers,” Thierry Lepaon stated, noting that “a labor conflict is, by its very nature, a very serious matter. There’s the workers’ distress and desperation. All the prerequisites are there for things to get out of hand.”

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