In France, Hollande Is Cowed by the Unions France’s jobless rate
Labor ▶ Labor activism undermines huge and tiny enterprises ▶ “They know the power they have left is to be disruptive”
Fewer than 8 percent of French employees belong to a union, compared with 25 percent in the U.K., 18 percent in Germany, and less than 11 percent in the U.S., data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development show. Yet French law requires any company with more than 49 employees to have union representatives, even if no employee is a member of a union.
Desseilles Laces, a 126-yearold manufacturer in northern France whose customers include Victoria’s Secret and Gucci, has become the most recent example of the power of the unions to unsettle even small enterprises. Co-owner Michel Berrier says the company may have to shut down after a court ruled in a suit brought by the unions it had to reinstate five workers laid off after sales slumped in 2013. Only two of the company’s 74 employees are union members, Berrier says. Union representatives did not return calls for comment. The lacemaker, which had 2015 sales of €7 million ($7.7 million), says reinstating the workers will cost it about €1 million. Liquidation would lead to the loss of all jobs at Desseilles. The company