Labour Research April 2021

European news

Post-COVID blueprint set out

The French government has set out a series of measures it says will help France move towards a post-COVID setting.

The measures, announced at a video conference with representatives of unions and employers on 15 March, came just before the introduction of new tighter lockdown restrictions in Paris and some other cities and regions.

Despite such tougher restrictions, prime minister Jean Castex told the conference this was the right time to address the short-term issue of a gradual reduction in state support and the medium-term issues the crisis has revealed.

Castex announced that the government would maintain its financial support for apprentices until the end of the year and maintain support for young people more generally until the end of May.

He also proposed paying a one-off bonus of €1,000 (£860) or, in some circumstances, ¤2,000 (£1,720) to all employees.

However, although the government would allow this payment to be made free of taxes and social security contributions, the decision to pay it would be left to employers.

Unsurprisingly, neither employers nor unions are keen on the plan.

The Medef employers’ organisation said employers are in no condition to pay a bonus. And the unions fear that, at best, the bonus would replace normal pay increases.

Philippe Martinez of the CGT union confederation commented that “as long as it is not obligatory, it depends on the goodwill of the employers, and, at the moment, there is bad will”.