France

French jobs summit undermined by trade union walkouts

Bernadette Groison, leader of the FSU union
Bernadette Groison, leader of the FSU union RFI

Another key trade union, the FSU, has walked out of the all-important two-day summit on jobs, leaving only one major union now in talks with government and employers.

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It is the first time ever that three important trade unions have refused to stay to the end of a so-called social summit.

The FSU, which is the union with the largest representation among teachers, slammed the door on talks just hours ago.

“We had the impression yesterday that the concluding roadmap had already been drawn up, even though there were disagreements,” said FSU leader Bernadette Groison.

She declared that the FSU would send a letter during the day to French president François Hollande to ask him how he hopes “to re establish social dialogue” and to understand what he plans for public services.

Education minister Benoit Hamon attempted to distance his department from the clash, declaring that there was no disagreement between the FSU and his ministry about education.

The CGT and FO, the largest and third largest trade unions, had already decided on Monday to boycott the second day of talks, to protest against concessions made to employers by Prime Minister Manuel Valls concerning early retirement for workers in physically demanding jobs.

Another trade union, Solidaires announced a boycott just days before the summit began.

The government had hoped that the summit would be a forum to thrash out the concrete details of its so-called “Responsibility Pact”, under which employers are expected to create jobs in return for cuts in corporate tax and social security payments.

The scheme is still vague and trade unions complain that it is unclear how the government can force employers to create new jobs.

 

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