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unions wary of the government’s social agenda

Social return to the Ministry of Labour. Labor Minister Olivier Dussopt and Minister Delegate for Vocational Education and Training Carole Grandjean presented their roadmap for social issues to unions and employers on Monday morning 12 September. With a stated goal: to achieve full employment, the banner under which Emmanuel Macron placed his second five-year term.

“We can no longer afford to have high unemployment that coexists with recruitment difficulties”, we repeat in the Ministry of Labour. Hence the desire to reform unemployment insurance by ensuring that the unemployed are more encouraged to fill vacant jobs thanks to a “countercyclical” compensation system: the unemployed would be less well compensated when the labor market he works in is dynamic, and better protected, when the financial situation becomes difficult.

“Don’t Blur It All”

But if it is supported by the employers, and Medef in particular, the government will have to face the opposition of the trade unions. As a negotiation in a good and proper form is therefore difficult, it is a simple “hearing” that opens on the subject.

“This question should not obscure the whole, we argue along with Olivier Dussopt. It is a global topic which also requires that you take an interest in questions about housing, mobility or even childcare. » These are all problems that the social partners have long identified as obstacles to the unemployed returning to work.

The High Commissioner for Employment and Vocational Engagement, Thibaut Guilluy, will also travel to the Somme on Wednesday to launch the comprehensive reform that will transform Pôle emploi into France Travail, and which, in addition to the social partners, will also involve the regions (responsible for vocational training) and the departments (responsible for RSA). Compensation for the unemployed will therefore be only one subject in the reform over which the social partners fear losing control.

“The country needs reforms”

The other issue that worries the unions is pensions. The pension reform only appears between the lines of the government’s declared priorities. Who, to appease the unions, intends to open the places first to the difficulty and the employment of seniors who are dear to the unions. “We are ready to discuss these issues,” thus confirms Cyril Chabanier, president of the CFTC.

On the employers’ side, if Medef does not prioritize the pension reform and prefers to concentrate on unemployment insurance, the association of small and medium-sized enterprises intervenes. “There is never a good time, but the country needs reforms,” stresses its president François Asselin.

Officially, the executive board says it is awaiting the next report from the Pension Orientation Council, which will be published on Thursday afternoon. According to AFP, the report should announce a profit of 900 million euros in 2021, then 3.2 billion in 2020, before “deteriorates significantly” from 2023 to then return to equilibrium in the mid-2030s.

“It would lead to demonstrations and strikes”

The unions therefore fear that the announced breakdown, even if it is temporary, will serve as a pretext for new age measures. Thus, the Touraine reform from 2014, which until 2035 gradually increases the contribution period to reach forty-three years for people born in 1973 or later, that an amendment to the bill on social security financing could speed it up, so that it concerns e.g. , faster the generations born in 1962-1963.

“It would be dangerous and would lead to strong mobilization, demonstrations and strikes,” warns Michel Beaugas, federal secretary of the Force Ouvrière, responsible for employment and pensions. “It would block all the other construction sites”, warns Cyril Chabanier.

And the general secretary of the CFDT, Laurent Berger, to warn: “We are ready to commit to supporting RSA beneficiaries or long-term jobseekers, but peace of mind will not be in order if the decline is disrupted by a brutal measure.”

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