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Clandestine workers : first regularizations

Translated Sunday 27 April 2008, by Edward Lamb

First steps forward for the 500 clandestine workers on strike in sectors like restaurants, private security agencies and industrial cleaners

The government yields in opening regularization files case by case. It was beginning to become explosive : Employers of the restaurant industry, a big sector of employment for low wage manpower, immediately saw the danger of the clandestine worker’s movement for the restaurant business. To the point of asking the government for massive regularization. Unheard of.

André Daguin, president of the Trade Union of the Hotel Industry (UIMH), whose more usual issue is the steep Sales Tax, has thus reclaimed of the government the regularization of 50.000 to 100.000 clandestine workers. Idem for Didier Chenet, president of the Synhorcat (Syndicat national des hôteliers restaurateurs cafetiers et traiteurs) National Trade Union for Hotel, Restaurant and Café Owners and Caterers, who declared himself in favour of "massive regularization" in the framework of the "Hortefeux Law" , which is to say, according to the needs of the labour market. «The examination (of citizenship applications), case by case, is not the solution » according to him. Not out of Charity, but because « if it takes too long, it will mean that employers will have to dismiss workers, which for us would mean nonsense and financial losses »

"One big case, at one go"

«The idea », continues Didier Chenet, « is to make one big case of it, at one go (…) and to say that all of those who were hired prior to July 2007, in all clarity, for whom employers pay social contributions, for which the said wage earners contribute, and even pay taxes, might be regularized ». As nearly 20.000 jobs per year are left vacant in the hotel-restaurant industry, clandestine workers do not « take the place of other wage earners », he affirmed.

These advances were obtained during a meeting Monday evening between representatives of the CGT labour union and cabinet members of the Immigration Ministry. « We may have a way out of the crisis before us », Francine Blanche, of the CGT, declared warily. This evening, in the government offices of each of the five administrative divisions which compose the Ile de France region, the CGT and the clandestine workers must bring documents proving the reality of the job they claim to hold.

Francine Blanche and Jean-Claude Amara of the association Droits Devant !, which defends the civil rights of immigrants, have nevertheless assured that « all of the picket lines would stay in place until they were certain that examination of the application files is going along smoothly in the administrative offices ».

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