• France's news in English

Why company bosses in France have had enough

Ben McPartland · 2 Dec 2014, 16:44

Published: 02 Dec 2014 16:44 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

On Monday the gates around the ministry of finance in Paris were adorned with thousands of padlocks.

It was a symbolic message sent to the government by thousands of business owners who took to the streets of Paris and Toulouse to protest against the burdensome bureaucracy, crippling payroll taxes and laws that are preventing them from creating jobs and wealth.

One of those shouting “Enough is Enough” as he marched on the ministry was Jean-François Roubaud, the president of the CGPME union that organized Monday’s protest.

He joined 6,000 others to send the message “liberate our businesses” to the government.

Roubaud explained to The Local exactly why they had had enough.

Roubaud: I can’t go through all the reasons why we are so unhappy as it would take hours but here are three of the main ones that prompted our protest on Monday.

The complexity of the bureaucracy that we face in France means it is impossible for many companies to observe the laws.

The labour code now stretches to 3,500 pages and there are 7,000 standards (normes) that small businesses have to adhere to. It’s just not possible. Margins have never been so thin. Business owners just can’t take it anymore.

For example from January 1st we are required to implement the “compte de pénibilité”, which will require companies to measure the hardship or stresses faced by each employer at work, such as the chances of them getting a bad back etc. to see whether they can retire earlier. 

It will just be impossible. It’s totally unrealistic for smaller businesses. They just won’t be able to put it in place and will end up having to pay fines.

Another point is that since July 1st it is illegal to employ someone for under 24 hours per week. But what about the shop owners who need someone to fill in on a Saturday? They are not going to employ them for eight hours and pay them for 24 hours work.

There are four million part-time workers in France working less than 24 hours a week, but under this law we will put another one million people out of work. It’s absurd.

Finally there is a law that obliges owners of companies with more than 250 employees to inform the workers two months in advance if they plan to sell the company. But when we sell a company it has to be done in the utmost discretion. If we told workers then they would leave straight away and the sale could always collapse. We don’t sell a company in two months, it takes two years.

We are also asphyxiated by the amount of payroll taxes we have to pay.

The president announced his plan to lower these charges on January 1st this year as part of the Responsibility Pact. We applaud that move. But it’s now a year on and they haven’t taken effect and won’t until next year.

We can’t wait anymore. All business owners see are the €35 billion extra levies that have been placed on them over the last three years. They just see more and more taxes being imposed on them and they are finding it more and more difficult to get to the end of the month.

Story continues below…

We know France has a good welfare state system, probably the best, but the financing of it is too dependent on payroll taxes paid by companies, which make up about two thirds of the funding.

It needs to be financed in a more balanced way so we can take the pressure off companies.

Earlier this year the French PM said he loves business. I believe him when he said that but we need more proof.

The French prime minister understands our problems. We also have an economy minister who understands as well as a labour minister. But they all have their hands tied by the system put in place by their predecessors. They are in prison. Plus the government has a weak majority so it’s hard to get any reforms through parliament.

I don't care about left or right. I represent businesses and I want whoever is in charge of France to look after businesses and set them free. We are the only ones who can create wealth and jobs. The only ones.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

UK border must move back, says 'next French president'
Photo: AFP

If favourite Alain Juppé is elected, Britain and France are in for some difficult negotiations.

Homeless man does a runner from France's top restaurants
Photo: Prayitno/Flickr

"A man's gotta eat," he told police, after racking up gigantic bills in some of France's plushest restaurants.

Underwater museum hopes to make a splash in Marseille
A similar underwater museum piece by Jason deCaires Taylor. Photo: julie rohloff/Flickr

Don't forget your scuba gear...

Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Photo: Jacme/Flickr

Move over Paris...

And France's top chef of the year is... 'Monsieur Idiot'
Alexandre Couillon might have an unfortunate name, but he can sure cook!. Photo: AFP

Look beyond the name. He's the man who turned his family's humble "moules frites" joint into one of France's best seafood restaurants.

Could France do more to ease the worries of 'Brexpats'?
Photo: AFP

Paris is rolling out the red tape for British firms, so why not British citizens in France?

Brexit: Brits in France could face 'cataclysmic' impact
Photo: AFP

Can't France make it easier for Britons to get French nationality?

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
Want to drive a scooter around Paris? Here's what you need to know
jobs available