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France

Background information on industrial relations in France

  • 02 Dec 2009
    France: New law promotes job mobility of civil servants

    A law adopted in July 2009 promotes occupational mobility in the civil service by consolidating possibilities of secondment, outplacement and integration of civil servants in jobs unrelated to their previous position. It also increases possibilities to combine part-time jobs, use temporary agency staff, as well as recruit employees under private law employment contracts. Trade unions have denounced this process of rendering public jobs more flexible.

  • 02 Dec 2009
    France: Parliament adopts report on executive pay in bid to curb abuse

    In July 2009, the parliamentary Committee on constitutional laws, legislation and general administration of the French state adopted a report on the remuneration of leading company board members and managing directors, as well as traders in the financial services sector. The report put forward 16 proposals with the aim of ending abuses in relation to executive pay and increasing transparency regarding remuneration by establishing legal rules.

  • 02 Dec 2009
    France: Complementary health and social protection guaranteed during unemployment

    An additional clause to the national intersectoral agreement on modernising the labour market came into force in July 2009. It provides for maintaining, for a maximum period of nine months, the benefit of complementary health and social protection guarantees that were applied in the company the unemployed person last worked for. The social partners welcomed the additional clause, particularly the concept of funding the prolongation through a system of mutualisation.

  • 02 Dec 2009
    France: New law to improve regional healthcare system and patient care

    The law on reforming the regional healthcare system and hospital organisation in terms of patient care came into effect in July 2009. The law draws on a report published in 2008 and makes provision for the modernisation of healthcare facilities. It also seeks to address the issues of universal access to quality healthcare and prevention. The trade unions have not uniformly welcomed the law and have denounced unfair competition between public hospitals and the private sector.

  • 20 Nov 2009
    France: New law widens scope of Sunday trading

    A new law increases the possibilities of obtaining dispensation from Sunday being a rest day in retail outlets in tourist zones and areas of ‘exceptional consumption’. In some cases, exemptions are automatic and the law does not provide for any special compensation for the employees affected. In other cases, administrative authorisation is given under certain conditions. The government is hoping to boost consumption; however, trade unions are among those opposed to the bill.

  • 10 Nov 2009
    France: Telework agreement signed at France Télécom Orange

    Towards the end of June 2009, the France Télécom Orange group signed an agreement on telework with four trade unions. Under the agreement, employees will be able to become teleworkers on a voluntary basis while maintaining their direct links with the company. The signatory parties expressed their overall satisfaction with the agreement. However, two large trade unions did not sign the accord and criticised its provisions.

  • 25 Sep 2009
    France: Multi-industry agreement resolves milk crisis

    The sharp decrease in the price paid to milk producers in April 2009 triggered three weeks of conflict between the producers, on the one hand, and the distributors and processors, on the other. A multi-industry agreement was signed in June, following pressure from the French government. The margins on milk and milk by-products will be subject to greater monitoring. However, milk producers remain unhappy with the prices agreed and are continuing to strike.

  • 23 Sep 2009
    Representativeness of the European social partner organisations: Steel industry – France

    The aim of this representativeness study is to identify the respective national and supranational actors (i.e. trade unions and employer organisations) in the field of industrial relations in the steel industry in France. In order to determine their relative importance in the sector’s industrial relations, this study will, in particular, focus on their representational quality as well as on their role in collective bargaining.

  • 18 Sep 2009
    France – Greening the European economy: responses and initiatives by Member States and social partners

    Environmental issues are becoming topics that governments, employer organisations and trade unions pay increasing attention to. Initiatives are above all of an individual nature, along with a process of consultations that was launched in 2007 which encourages collective actions and legal measures in order to increase responsibility in governance.

  • 15 Sep 2009
    France: Flexicurity and industrial relations

    Although there are no current public policies directly related to flexicurity in France, this contribution outlines some of the main national multi-industry agreements that may constitute the beginning of the ‘flexicurity à la française’. The present segmentation of the labour market encourages social partners to discuss the issue of ‘making career paths secure’ instead of flexicurity.

  • 19 Aug 2009
    France: Intersectoral agreement lays basis for training system reform

    On 7 January 2009, the French social partners signed a national intersectoral agreement on the development of training throughout the working life, professionalisation and securing career paths. The agreement reforms yet again the French vocational training system, focusing on aspects such as equality and effectiveness. It aims to help workers develop their skills while also addressing the issues of competitiveness and labour shortages in certain economic sectors.

  • 12 Aug 2009
    France: Report on pay gap and distribution of added value and profits in France

    On 13 May 2009, the director general of the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies submitted a report on the distribution of added value and profits as well as on the pay gap in France to the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy. The trade union and employer organisations reacted rather positively to the report, albeit their differing analyses in relation to its findings. President Sarkozy has given the trade unions and employers until 15 July to submit proposals for reform.

  • 10 Aug 2009
    France: Prospects of change following intense social mobilisations

    In May 2009, following a call by eight trade union organisations, thousands of demonstrators came together in major French towns or took different forms of action in companies to call for measures to promote employment and income. The trade unions called on the employers to assume their responsibilities and commence bargaining on issues such as safeguarding jobs, improving the distribution of added value and profits, and promoting young people’s employment.

  • 05 Aug 2009
    France: Improvements in partial unemployment allowances

    In mid April 2009, during negotiations on unemployment benefit issues, the social partners in France accepted the roll-out of a reduced working hours allowance put forward by the government. The allowance supplements the contractual partial unemployment benefit, which was amended in December 2008, under certain conditions. The agreement received a mixed response from the social partners, with the General Confederation of Labour the only trade union not to sign it.

  • 29 Jul 2009
    Representativeness of the European social partner organisations: Tanning and leather sector – France

    The aim of this representativeness study is to identify the respective national and supranational actors (i.e. trade unions and employer organisations) in the field of industrial relations in the tanning and leather sector in France. In order to determine their relative importance in the sector’s industrial relations, this study will, in particular, focus on their representational quality as well as on their role in collective bargaining.

  • 21 Jul 2009
    France: Companies face penalties if no agreement on employment of older people

    The social security finance bill for 2009 included an obligation to negotiate company agreements on the employment of older people and penalties for not doing so. The fact that the implementing decree was not published for some months led to trade union concerns. The decree eventually appeared towards the end of May 2009. It outlines the list of areas of action, age thresholds for defining targets, communication arrangements and a procedure for verifying compliance.

  • 02 Jul 2009
    France: Multinational companies and collective bargaining

    The impact of multinational companies (MNCs) on collective bargaining has not been an area of focus in France .Moreover, this group of firms have an ambivalent role. On the one hand, multinationals generally offer more favourable wage conditions and better profitability. The majority of them, especially those of French origin, have a favourable attitude towards negotiation with trade unions, which due to the size of these companies, have a relatively strong foothold. On the other hand, multinationals, particularly those of foreign origin, cause employment uncertainty and tension. The trade unions are often less successful mobilizing employees and public opinion to safeguard jobs in these multinationals.

  • 18 Jun 2009
    France: Controversy over measures to promote employment of older people

    The social security finance bill, which was adopted at the end of November 2008, includes several new measures for keeping older people in employment. These provisions reflect decisions made by the French government in the framework of recent social partner discussions on pension reform. However, the new legislation has met with strong negative reactions from most of the social partners, the political opposition parties and other relevant actors.

  • 11 May 2009
    France: Major reshuffle of decentralised state employment services

    State departmental and regional services in France are currently being reorganised; the restructuring began in January 2009. This reorganisation process makes major changes in particular to the directorates responsible for public employment and labour policy, and is therefore causing concern among trade unions. The trade unions have highlighted a lack of dialogue as well as their fears that the restructuring will lead to significant redundancies.

  • 11 May 2009
    France: Multi-industry talks on occupational health service reform

    Work sessions on the reform of the French occupational health service were due to conclude at the end of April 2009 and should lead to a multi-industry agreement in the summer of 2009. The discussions and the issues raised in various reports demonstrate that particular difficulties revolve around the declining number of occupational health officers. Other problems concern governance, funding and the doctors’ role in the workplace.

  • 11 May 2009
    France: Workplace elections test new system of representation

    In March 2009, workplace elections were held at the French National Railway Company (SNCF). These elections are always eagerly awaited and were even more so this year, as they promised to create a new trade union landscape following the adoption of new rules on trade union representativeness at national level. The results of the elections met these expectations, with more alliances being formed and four trade unions departing from the scene.

  • 30 Apr 2009
    France: Civil service inaugurates charter for diversity

    In early December 2008, the French Equal Opportunities and Anti-Discrimination Commission and the Ministry for the Budget, Public Accounts and Civil Service signed a charter for promoting diversity. While this charter was adopted in the civil service, a ‘diversity label’ for companies was also created and came into effect in January 2009. Overall, the charter has been welcomed by the social partners as it promotes social cohesion and gender equality.

  • 30 Apr 2009
    France: Several million protest across France for action on economic crisis

    On 29 January 2009, millions of workers, pensioners and citizens demonstrated in towns throughout France, responding to a joint call by eight of the country’s trade union organisations. The protesters demanded that companies, employers and the state adopt measures that are favourable to workers, jobseekers and pensioners, who are victims of the economic crisis. However, the trade unions, employers and government all appear to be maintaining a firm stance in relation to their respective demands.

  • 30 Apr 2009
    France: Economic recovery plan announced at social summit

    In February 2009, the government presented a €26 billion economic recovery plan. The plan includes assistance for companies in terms of cash flow and a public investment programme. The president decided to add €3 billion to the plan following the social summit. However, the trade unions are dissatisfied with the measures and planned another demonstration for 19 March.

  • 30 Apr 2009
    France: General strike in Guadeloupe against high cost of living

    Following calls by an organisation representing trade unions, political parties and cultural associations in the French overseas department of Guadeloupe, a general strike was launched in late January 2009. The strike was held in protest against the high cost of living and included demands for a €200 wage increase. Employer organisations responded by proposing an exemption from employer contributions; however, the prime minister refused this request.

  • 28 Apr 2009
    France: Wage flexibility and collective bargaining

    On average, base pay and fixed bonuses still constitute the main part of earnings, especially for non-professional and managerial staffs. Variable payment systems generally became more widespread in the 2000s. However firms tend to favour mixed pay systems, combining individual and collective elements, and to apply different pay systems for professional and managerial staffs. Moreover, a lot of legislative and regulatory documents have more or less significantly changed the rules regarding employee savings schemes. The two most recent schemes (PEE and PERCO) are developing through collective agreements, namely in the car industry and in the banking industry.

  • 28 Apr 2009
    Representativeness of the European social partner organisations: Hospitals – France

    The aim of this representativeness study is to identify the respective national and supranational actors (i.e. trade unions and employer organisations) in the field of industrial relations in the hospital sector in France. In order to determine their relative importance in the sector’s industrial relations, this study will, in particular, focus on their representational quality as well as on their role in collective bargaining.

  • 31 Mar 2009
    France: wage formation

    Real pay has increased only little during recent years. In theory, pay bargaining takes place in the framework of industry-wide collective agreements, but in practice it is increasingly occurring at company level. It is to a large extent controlled by government decisions regarding the level of minimum pay, social contributions and overtime. The concentration of pay at the bottom end has reopened the debate on rules governing minimum pay and on compensation of social contributions. Recent price increases have raised the issue of a general pay rise.

  • 11 Mar 2009
    France: Eiro annual review - 2007

    Following the right-wing's election victory, a series of social measures have been adopted, which mark the beginning of very profound changes of the French industrial scene. They concern the labour market, as well as pensions and rules on representativeness, and involve collective Bargaining /Agreements and legislation. Pay and the cost of living are becoming increasingly important issues in public discussions.

  • 09 Mar 2009
    France: The impact of the information and consultation Directive

  • 12 Feb 2009
    France: Collective bargaining and continuous vocational training

    The ‘individual right to training’ approved by the social partners in December 2003 and included in the law in 2004 has now been extended to civil servants. Increasingly widely implemented, the training opportunities it offers have enabled a growing number of employees to improve their skills. The regions, social partners and the State are responsible for implementing the individual right to training. It is already possible to partially assess the impact made by introduction of the right.

  • 04 Feb 2009
    France: Controversy over new return-to-work measure

    In October 2008, the French parliament adopted a bill extending nationally a new form of social welfare known as ‘active solidarity income’. This new benefit will make it possible to combine guaranteed minimum income with paid work. However, its funding has led to controversy and criticisms have also been made regarding its discriminatory nature. Trade unions argue that the new income benefit will encourage the proliferation of low-paid jobs.

  • 04 Feb 2009
    France: Record abstention of employees in industrial tribunal elections

    In early December 2008, private sector employees and employers elected members of the bipartite industrial tribunals. The results reflect the support each confederation has and thus their ranking in terms of this support. However, employees’ abstention rate increased once again compared with the previous elections, while it declined once more among employers. Debate has thus arisen on the usefulness of maintaining these elections in their current form.

  • 04 Feb 2009
    France: Closure of third largest French mail-order network

    More than 60 years after its creation by the teachers’ mutual insurance company, the main subsidiary of the Camif cooperative group is to be closed following an announcement by court decision in October 2008. Some of the 780 employees who lost their jobs plan to create a workers’ cooperative society, while others hope to take advantage of the personalised back-to-work assistance agreement proposed by the government.

  • 04 Feb 2009
    France: Christian Workers’ Confederation holds 50th congress

    In October 2008, the French Christian Workers’ Confederation (CFTC) held its 50th national congress in Strasbourg in France. Jacques Voisin was elected President of CFTC for a third term, while the former treasurer, Philippe Louis, is now the General Secretary. The leadership has decided – given the new rules on representativeness – to intensify the trade union’s strategy of increasing the number of branches, especially in small and medium-sized enterprises.

  • 19 Jan 2009
    France: Moves to privatise French Post Office gather pace

    The French postal services company, La Poste, whose status was changed from being part of the civil service to a state-owned company in 1991, has gradually been divided into separate business activities: letters, parcels, financial services and the network of post offices. It is now due to be turned into a limited liability company (Société anonyme, SA) with a view to being able to meet the challenge of the introduction of competition into the letters market in 2011.

  • 13 Jan 2009
    France: Renault to cut 6,000 jobs in France and Europe

    Some 10 years after the Renault manufacturer closed under strong protests its plant in Vilvoorde, Belgium, the company announced its decision to cut a further 6,000 jobs across Europe. In October 2008, the company put forward its restructuring plan, which it describes as a three-fold incentive plan for voluntary redundancies. However, the measures have met with strong opposition, particularly from workers and trade union representatives at the Sandouville factory, where 1,000 jobs are to be cut.

  • 05 Jan 2009
    France: Sectoral agreement on employment of older people in banking

    An agreement on non-discrimination on grounds of age and the employment of older people in the financial intermediation sector was reached in July 2008. It has since been signed by three of the five sectoral trade unions and by the banking employer organisation. The agreement provides for career progression and training measures. This is the 10th sectoral agreement on ageing; more are likely to follow as the government will otherwise impose penalties by the end of 2009.

Page last updated: 21 August, 2014