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Unemployment surges in France

30 June 2016

Rubbish piling up in the streets of Bordeaux as strikes spread throughout the public and private sectors. Photo Workers.

Before the referendum, Cameron claimed that migration from EU countries would diminish because economies such as that of France had “recovered”. On Friday 24 June, France’s official unemployment figures for May were published.

They did not make good reading for French workers. After two months of falls in the level of unemployment, there was a setback as the number out of work rose again, contrary to all "expert" forecasts and government claims.

The number of people totally without work and seeking employment (category A) now stands at 3.52 million in Metropolitan France – continental France excluding its overseas departments. Youth unemployment (under 25s) rose by 0.9 per cent month on month.

In all categories, including those on a reduced working week (short time working), 5.428 million workers are now categorised as unemployed in Metropolitan France. If n the overseas departments are added in, that rises by a further 300,000.


The French government's response to the structural inability to create employment, particularly for the young, is to impose drastic changes to the labour laws. President Hollande has attacked the cherished legal right of all young people to a year’s subsidised work on leaving education.

Unable to get the measures through the French parliament, and under pressure to meet the European Union’s fiscal targets, Hollande is imposing them by decree – including the removal of the legal right to a 35-hour week, introduced four decades ago after trade union struggle. And he is going after state pensions again, with a further rise in the qualifying age to access the state pension.

The EU is of course silent in the protection of these rights, laying bare the lie that it is a guardian of social progress.

French workers, too, so long wedded to the myth of EU protection, are beginning to question the whole EU project. In polls carried out after Brexit, 60 per cent expressed their desire for their own referendum.