French Labor Minister Olivier Dussopt during a meeting with French unions on unemployment insurance reform, November 21, 2022 in Paris (AFP/Bertrand GUAY)
Difficult negotiations between unions and employers over the terms of compensation for the unemployed from 2024 were suspended on Thursday evening and will resume on Friday morning, with no guarantee of success.
The draft agreement, submitted by employers ahead of this session, “is a first version and I see that it is really difficult,” stated the CFDT negotiator, Olivier Guivarch, after about seven hours of discussion.
“It will be decided in the final session on Friday,” he added, explaining that “the CFDT is still looking for a way out.”
“The further it goes, the narrower the passage. It is no longer a mouse hole, it is the eye of a needle,” said his FO counterpart Michel Beaugas.
The employers’ text “did not move one iota” at the end of Thursday’s negotiating session, noted CGT negotiator Denis Gravouil at the end of the evening, who had previously described the document as “provocation”.
The management side, which has not spoken to the press, has committed to presenting a new version of its project on Friday morning, according to union negotiators, who predict telephone exchanges during the night.
The draft agreement, unveiled by the AEF agency and consulted by AFP, aims in particular to “adapt certain compensation rules to better take into account the situation of the most vulnerable groups”. This includes reducing the minimum membership condition that allows entitlement, from six to five months, or “adjusting the rules regarding the degression” of allowances for high incomes, by making them applicable on people under 55 years old and not on 57 years old.
But the CFE-CGC warned that it would not sign if the degression remains in the text.
Other measures of this agreement, which will initially last three years (four in the employers’ project), concern in particular the rules for compensation in the event of dismissal, or aim to promote the return to the labor market of seniors.
– “Double difficulty” –
The project also provides for an employer contribution reduced to 3.95% of the wage bill, in particular through the abolition of a temporary contribution of 0.05% imposed in 2017, a measure demanded by Medef. The text also aims to ‘adjust’ the bonus-malus system, a system criticized by employers that increases the contributions of bosses who use short contracts more than average.
The unions do not necessarily reject the principle of reducing employer contributions, but want improvements for the rights of the unemployed.
The government, which gave the social partners until November 15 to reach an agreement, will take over if they do not reach a compromise.
The executive could refuse to ratify an agreement based on Unédic’s macroeconomic forecasts that it disputes. According to several union representatives, the government is counting on failure.
The executive has carefully framed the debates in a document sent to the social partners at the beginning of August: no return on the 2019 reform, which in particular tightened the conditions for access to compensation for the unemployed, nor on the 2023 reform, which modulates the conditions of unemployment insurance in accordance with the labor market situation and has reduced the duration of compensation by 25%.
Additional financial complexity: The executive has planned additional income from unemployment insurance to finance support and training measures for the unemployed.
These levies pose “a double difficulty,” according to the draft agreement, which invokes “a question of principle” and is linked to Unédic’s debt reduction objectives.
In February 2019, the last negotiations on unemployment insurance ended in failure: the social partners held the executive responsible, which they said had presented them with an impossible equation.
In the evening, at the request of the CGT, more than a hundred demonstrators came to the area around Unédic to defend the rights of the unemployed and those of temporary workers in the entertainment industry, whose compensation conditions must be validated in general. negotiation.