On Monday July 7th the French government began the third of its so-called 'social conferences' in which employer and worker representatives debate plans to tackle the country’s social and economic problems. At stake this time is President François Hollande's much-vaunted but controversial 'Responsibility Pact' aimed at giving a 40-billion-euro incentive to the country's bosses to hire staff and thus cut the jobless total. Here Mediapart looks at the main economic and social indicators which all illustrate the challenges faced by the government; rising unemployment, growing poverty and financial hardship, and the destruction of industrial jobs. Yannick Sanchez and Thomas Saint-Cricq report.
When the man at the helm of the French bosses' organisation calls for wage restraint and suggests paying young workers less than the legal minimum wage, it would seem reasonable to expect him to be prepared to take a dose of his own medicine. Instead Pierre Gattaz, president of the employers' association MEDEF, has just awarded himself a 29% pay rise. He is far from being the only culprit in France's corporate world. But, says Martine Orange, the symbolism bodes ill for President François Hollande's bid to cut business costs in exchange for creating jobs, a policy on which the president has staked his political future.
After 20 months in power, relations between French President François Hollande and Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault are showing cracks. Despite a public show of solidarity, in private the two men are at odds over the management of economic and social policies, and Ayrault’s future appears increasingly uncertain. Lénaïg Bredoux traces how the two men have begun drifting apart and hears the views from insiders close to both, one of whom insists: “François Hollande fired Ayrault in December, but no-one knows.”
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