The following article was first published as the editorial of workplace bulletins distributed by members of L’Etincelle (The Spark) faction in France.

November 6th, 2017

What the bosses’ union (Medef) had been dreaming about, the government did. The administration put a “calculator of severance pay for wrongful dismissal” online on its website, for the bosses to use. It’s quite easy to use. Say you’re an employer, you type in the years of service of the employee and the size of the company, then you click “calculate”. That’s it. You get the price for the dismissal. It’s quite cheap. And as a bonus, a dismissal letter template is available on the website, too! Of course, the Medef hails this excellent initiative. How long will we put up with it?

It’s a gift

This cynical online tool is a result of Macron’s rulings. It expresses the new legal framework around severance pay for wrongful dismissal.

As an example, if a terminated employee with 20 years seniority files a claim with the Labour Relations Court, they will be entitled to severance pay of 3 to 15.5-month salary.

So, it makes sense for the bosses to use their calculator (the one given to them by the government, that is): if a worker is too expensive due to seniority, or because he is on sick leave following an occupational accident, such as breaking his back after years of intensive work… wouldn’t it be cheaper to fire him, pay a small severance pay, and hire a cheaper worker or simply share his work among his remaining colleagues?

We and our colleagues are directly threatened by this disgusting calculation.

Shorter unemployment benefits for older workers

So, older workers are the most threatened by this change. And they will face yet another threat. Since November 1st, the new unemployment benefits rule, passed under Hollande, will kick in.

Up to now, the maximal duration for unemployment benefits was 36 months for the over 50, and 24 months for younger workers. From now on, the cap is brought down to 24 months for workers aged 50 to 52, and 30 months for those aged 53 to 54. Only after 55 are benefits maintained to 36 months.

So, a 50-year-old worker who has worked for 30 years in a company can be dismissed for no reason, and get two years of unemployment benefits. And after? Well, don’t ask the government and the bosses, they couldn’t care less if it ends in poverty.

It’s all good, believe us!

And yet the media keep telling us that things are going well, since the economy started growing again! Yes, the GDP has increased, meaning more wealth is produced in France. But who profits from our work? Obviously not us.

Fighting against unacceptable trends

We must now expect wrongful dismissals to happen in every company, even more than before. The very few legal protections that could make the bosses think twice have been removed. The only thing left for us to do, each time this happens, is to mobilise. Fighting together, each time one of our colleagues is threatened, means fighting to save our own job.

We can also express this essential worker solidarity during the interprofessional day of action called on by the CGT, FO, Solidaires and FSU unions on November 16th. We must seize all opportunities to show we won’t accept their selfish, cynical calculations.