Af­ter ‘bloody mess’ jab, Macron eyes training, job in­sur­ance re­form

Iran Daily - - International -

France’s govern­ment and la­bor unions, united in seek­ing to cut un­em­ploy­ment but di­vided over how to do so, will seek com­mon ground with a re­vamp of job training and un­em­ploy­ment in­sur­ance.

The govern­ment pro­poses spend­ing an ad­di­tional 15 bil­lion euros on training over five years, with em­ploy­ers say­ing they can­not fill va­can­cies de­spite a job­less rate of close to 10 per­cent, higher than in many Euro­pean coun­tries, Reuters wrote.

Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron also wants to bring the na­tional un­em­ploy­ment in­sur­ance fund, cur­rently jointly run by unions and em­ploy­ers, un­der the state’s con­trol.

Macron, a former banker whose other la­bor mar­ket re­form plans have been con­demned by some trade union lead­ers as a death knell for high French stan­dards of la­bor pro­tec­tion, wants to make a pro­fes­sional training pro­gram less bu­reau­cratic. He also wants the state to have more say over how much the un­em­ployed get in ben­e­fits and for how long, which is cur­rently largely set by unions and em­ploy­ers,

On Thurs­day the govern­ment is due to open talks with union lead­ers be­fore de­cid­ing how to over­haul training and un­em­ploy­ment in­sur­ance.

Training is al­ready funded to the tune of some 30 bil­lion euros an­nu­ally, fi­nanced in part by a levy on wage-earn­ers, but is widely crit­i­cized for not ben­e­fit­ing work­ers that need it most. Mean­while, unions and em­ploy­ers are pro­tec­tive of their decades-old grip over the un­em­ploy­ment in­sur­ance ben­e­fits sys­tem worth bil­lions of euros.

Macron an­gered union­ists last week with com­ments he made dur­ing a visit to a car parts fac­tory, where scuf­fles erupted between po­lice and work­ers protest­ing over job losses.

“In­stead of kick­ing up a bloody mess, some of them would be bet­ter off go­ing to see if they can get a job over there,” he said, al­lud­ing to va­can­cies that a nearby alu­minum fac­tory was bat­tling to fill.

Op­po­nents ac­cused Macron of show­ing con­tempt to­ward the work­force. None­the­less, busi­ness own­ers say the skills gap is a prob­lem.

“We just can’t get peo­ple into fac­to­ries,” Pierre Tis­seau, whose com­pany makes house ter­races in Cho­let in western France, said. Tis­seau said he hoped re­forms to pro­fes­sional training would help him fill va­can­cies he has strug­gled to plug since 2008.

The lo­cal branch of the Medef busi­ness fed­er­a­tion in Cho­let said 9,000 peo­ple were look­ing for work but that firms were find­ing it hard to fill 1,500 va­can­cies in sec­tors such as con­struc­tion, transport and the agri-foods.

Macron de­fied street protests led by the Com­mu­nist Party-rooted CGT union to drive through em­ploy­ment law re­forms that crit­ics say will weaken col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing and give more power to com­pa­nies to set out work con­di­tions.

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