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04.06.2020 Europe

Macron gathers trade unions for tough talks on French employment crisis

Francois Mori / POOL / AFP
LISTEN JUN 4, 2020
Francois Mori / POOL / AFP

French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe are to meet trade unions and employers' organisations Thursday at the Elysée Palace to work on solutions to the economic and social crisis linked to the Covid-19 epidemic. 

The government is anticipating a fall in GDP of 11 per cent this year due to the "extremely brutal economic shock" caused by the almost total shutdown of the economy as a result of coronavirus measures.

With unemployment also expected to surpass the 10 per cent mark, France's economy is being tested. More than eight million people are partially unemployed and more than six million job seekers were counted by the Pôle Emploi employment agency in April. 

"It will be a question of working on what can be done to preserve employment and support for the most vulnerable, in particular young people entering the job market," the president's office said of the meeting, scheduled for 3pm.

Announcements are expected on reforms to unemployment insurance, part-time work and apprenticeships, which are expected to drop by up to 40 percent without state support.

"The idea is to see how we can fight this crisis, with the threat of unemployment and bankruptcies, and to think about this 'post-Covid world' we keep mentioning," Cyril Chabanier, of the moderate CFDT union, told AFP.

The government's third meeting with employment groups in three months will also bring together Labour Minister Muriel Pénicaud, Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire, Agriculture and Food Minister Didier Guillaume and State Minister for Health and Solidarity Laurent Pietraszewski, charged with protecting the health of employees during the epidemic.

At an earlier meeting via videoconference during France's strict lockdown, unions made several requests including a ban on dividend payments, sanctions against companies who fail to protect their employees against the coronavirus, an assessment on working from home and the establishment of a "committee of experts" to monitor the impact of the lockdown on the French population. 

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