France’s manufacturing industry is going into meltdown.
Over the past five years 300,000 jobs have been lost, production has fallen below the level in 1997 and the sector has a commercial deficit of Euros 50 billion, compared to Euros 150 billion surplus in Germany. Manufacturing now represents just 10% of the economy, with employment in the sector representing 11% of the total workforce, compared to 30% in 1960.
In response to this “catastrophic” decline, the CGT trade union confederation is calling for “rupture” from current policies determined by an obsession with slashing the public deficit: these have caused an “explosion” in unemployment, the impoverishment of French families, a weakening of infrastructure and a deskilling of the French economy, it says.
“It is crucial that workers join with the CGT to respond to the false debates about Made in France, the supposed elevated labour costs, employees who work less than their European and German counterparts and overly rigid labour laws.
“We must set the record straight and stop an infernal downward spiral of austerity and unemployment, and advance our alternative proposals for reindustrialisation, employment and growth.
“Standard & Poors says that the credit rating downgrades in the Eurozone, including France, are warranted because of the dangers of austerity.
“This underlines the need for growth-oriented policies via increases in wages and purchasing power and yet our government is planning additional taxes and new austerity measures.
The austerity menace also underlines the need for workers to have greater security in employment, the CGT says, adding that bosses, while being “largely responsibile” for successive economic crises, are demanding the opposite, making workers and pensioners “pay, once again, the social bill.”
The CGT said ministerial announcements leading up to tomorrow’s tripartite “anti-crisis summit” suggest proposals will be advanced that can only “accelerate the crisis.”
“Employment must be at the heart of the public policy, with investment aimed at improving working conditions,” the union confederation concludes.