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(en) France, UCL AL #334 - Full employment objective, Generalized competition for employees (ca, de, it, fr, pt, tr)[machine translation]

Date Tue, 24 Jan 2023 09:49:46 +0200

The government's Full Employment Objective wants to create competition between employees and saturate sectors that are experiencing labor shortages. The real objective of the government is to create pressure on the labor market which prevents any negotiation on working conditions and remuneration. ---- In September, the Minister of Labor Olivier Dussopt announced the implementation of a program entitled Objective full employment composed of eight major projects: the creation of France Travail, the reform of the RSA, the youth engagement contract, the reform unemployment insurance, apprenticeship, vocational training, pension reform and the quality of work and employment. Most of these projects are closely linked : the government's objective is to saturate the labor market, starting with so-called shortage occupations, i.e. sectors experiencing labor shortages due to deplorable working conditions. The objective is obviously to avoid any negotiations in favor of the employees. The pension reform project will not be presented until January 10, but we understand that the government's objective is to extend working hours.

Regarding apprenticeship and training, the government's objective in reforming vocational high schools is to maintain pressure on wages by entering the labor market as quickly as possible, even if it means no longer training young people properly. The Ministries of National Education and Labor want to calibrate the high school streams towards sectors in tension, that is to say direct young people from the working class from the age of 15 towards the most difficult and least valued professions. This reform also means promoting apprenticeship at the expense of full training, on-the-job training from the age of 16, increasing the duration of internships in companies during which young people work for free: everything is good to subordinate the training of young people to only needs of local businesses and put them in competition with other employees.

Make the young gratos work
Unemployment insurance reforms pursue the same goals : to put workers in competition to lower the cost of labour. If the unemployment figures undergo slight changes depending on the categories taken into account, the number of unemployed men and women registered with Pôle Emploi since 2009, all categories combined, still remains above 6 million, i.e. say 20 % of the active population. We are far from the 7% announced by the government, which obviously only takes into account a part of the registrants (category A). But out of this 20%, the number of unemployed men and women receiving benefits is collapsing! In 2009, they were estimated at 51%. They are 36.4% in April 2022. This is the consequence of the unemployment insurance reform which came into force in 2021, the main measures of which are the extension from four to six months of the period of work necessary to open rights, the reduction of monthly allowances taking into account the intensity of work, and the capping of allowances in the event of accumulation with a job.

To justify these measures, the two arguments used by the government are always the same: reducing Unédic's debt and promoting a return to work. The reform has in fact made it possible to save more than a billion on the backs of the unemployed in 2021. 1970s... Each additional point would bring in more than 5 billion in the coffers. Regarding the argument that modifying the rules of compensation would promote the return to work, it continues to place the sole responsibility for unemployment on the backs of the unemployed. By attacking the rules of cumulation, the government claims to put an end to part-time work and short contracts. But preventing the association of precarious jobs and unemployment benefits will not push employers to change their practices consisting precisely in offering only precarious jobs ! Does the government really hope to fight against precariousness by intimating precarious people no longer? Even as it dismantles labor law and institutionalizes job insecurity...

Any job, any conditions
And now the government is already announcing a forthcoming reform for 2023 which plans in particular to change the duration of unemployment benefit according to the state of the labor market. But the logic is obviously pernicious. The approach is to continue to put pressure on the unemployed to impose any kind of work on them under any conditions, to the greatest benefit of employers.

Last stone in the building: France Travail, which should look more like a common label for existing institutions than an overhaul in a single establishment. But here too, the point is clear: the mission will no longer be to support job seekers in their professional project, but to organize a system of constraint and sanction with the increase in control services and the referral of users to private service providers. For the record, contractualization at Pôle emploi goes through what are called "Rights and duties"; one of the projects of the future prefiguration of France Travail was entitled in September 2022 "Obligations and duties"; in November 2022, this project was renamed "Obligations and sanctions"... A whole program.

France Travail is also the liberal project of a social organization torn from collective management to be subordinated to the State and placed at the service of employers. In 2019, the government put an end to consultations between unions and employers to reform unemployment insurance by decree. Then the State replaced employee social security contributions with taxes (the CSG).

Against unemployment, reduce working time
In September, the government invited employers and unions to start negotiations for a future agreement... before decreeing in the law on emergency measures adopted in November that only the State could modify the rules in 2023... If the government really wanted to fight against unemployment, it would start by reducing working hours. A further reduction to 32 hours could generate between two and four million jobs! And to rebuild a real public employment service, rather than nationalizing unemployment insurance, it would on the contrary have to be integrated into social security, which was the original project of the National Resistance Council. But it is clear that since the 2000s, the successive agreements and reforms of unemployment insurance and Pôle emploi have struggled to mobilize. The problem is nevertheless essential, and with the endemic precariousness of society, it is urgent that the social movement seizes the problem before the State can finally ransack everything.

Franz Müller (UCL Paris north-east)

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