Why job insecurity has become a full-time occupation in France


Insecure, short-term work is becoming the norm among many sections of French society. Fixed-term contracts lasting for up to only 18 months, jobs exempted from strict employment rules and temporary work or seasonal posts are now the lot of thousands of workers, particularly women, young people and 'senior citizens' over the age of 50. And this employment 'flexibility' looks set to be extended. Prime minister Manuel Valls has said he is considering plans to adjust the full-time permanent employment contract in France to ensure that bosses of smaller firms are not “bound hand and foot” by rules and regulations. Yet, as the most recent jobless figures show, the labour force flexibility that already exists is singularly failing to dent the relentless march of unemployment in the country. Mediapart's Mathilde Goanec spoke to people on the wrong side of this brave new world of flexible working.

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It may look as if nothing has changed. Government figures for the last quarter of 2014 show that only 7.6% of French employees are on fixed-term CDD contracts (1), suggesting that the coveted CDI, a permanent employment contract unlimited in time, is still the norm for the overwhelming majority of employees.