French employers say draft labor accord unacceptable

Mon Jan 7, 2013 10:51am EST
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By Nicholas Vinocur

PARIS (Reuters) - French employers will reject moves to overhaul rigid labor rules unless unions drop demands for heavier welfare charges on short-term job contracts, their leader said on Monday, suggesting talks this week could fail.

Socialist President Francois Hollande called on employers and unions to strike a deal by the end of 2012 that would grant companies more flexibility in hiring and firing while giving more job security to workers on short-term contracts.

Talks between the Medef employers' union and main labor groups spilled over to January after the last round broke up on December 21 without a deal, with each side accusing the other of making unacceptable demands.

As talks resume this week, Medef chief Laurence Parisot said employers would be unable to sign a deal imposing higher costs for hiring on seasonal or short-term contracts.

"At this point in our discussions, including talks we had all day yesterday, on Sunday... the Medef will not sign the deal," Parisot said on Radio Classique. "The issue of taxation for short contracts is a vital question."

The government says it will impose its own deal if the two sides fail agree. But legislating without support from unions and employers could expose it to criticism. Unions may influence left-wing parliamentarians to water down the agreement.


The government is pushing for a deal to address concerns that France has a two-speed labor market, with those on long-term job contracts enjoying too much job security and those on short-term contracts too little.   Continued...

MEDEF leader Laurence Parisot attends the French employers' body MEDEF union summer forum on the campus of the HEC School of Management in Jouy-en-Josas, near Paris, August 29, 2012. REUTERS/Charles Platiau