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Sarkozy calls crisis job summit

Matthew Warren · 18 Jan 2012, 07:24

Published: 18 Jan 2012 07:24 GMT+01:00

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President Nicolas Sarkozy is gathering union and business leaders together on Wednesday for a crisis summit on the country's unemployment situation.

Recent figures showed unemployment at a 12-year-high and close to the 10 percent mark. 

The government's main measure of unemployment now stands at 2.85 million people.

A broader measure, which includes part-time job seekers, puts the total at over 4 million.

The government has already announced a range of measures it hopes will help job creation.

One is a plan to reduce employers' social charges while increasing VAT to help bridge the gap. The measure, known as "social VAT", has been criticised by union leaders. 

"If the government imposes social VAT we'll fight it and we'll take to the streets," François Chérèque, leader of the CFDT union, told radio station RMC.

Other measures include more flexibility for employers to hire and fire workers as well as the often-touted plan to rid the country of the 35-hour-week introduced by the Socialist party over ten years ago.

Sarkozy's main challenger in upcoming presidential elections visited an inactive steel mill on Tuesday to highlight the unemployment problem.

François Hollande said the mill in the eastern town of Gandrange was "a symbol of the abandoning of employment as a priority, the symbol of the absence of an industrial policy and the symbol of not keeping his word."

French media underlined the importance of the summit on Wednesday with almost every front page leading on it.

"1,000 new job seekers every day" said Libération, "Crisis summit on the jobs death bed" said La Croix and "The France of redundancies" said La Tribune.



Matthew Warren (news.france@thelocal.com)

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