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France — Government finally starts talking to workers without official papers

14 May 2010
A meeting is taking place today at the Ministry for Immigration between 11 associations and unions and the Director General for Labour to talk about the thousands of foreign employees 'without official papers' who are working in France and particularly in Paris for organisations such as Paris Underground and other private and public sector companies, Le Monde reports.

The foreign employees, many of whom are working via temporary staffing agencies, demand that the French authorities legalise them and issue them with work and residence permits.

In order to attract attention to their case, the foreign workers have besieged the head-offices of many temporary staffing agencies, Paris Underground and other large employers who they say are happy to employ them but look the other way when it comes to their legal status.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Immigration told Agence France Presse "this is a technical meeting, not a negotiation. We want to understand what exactly the situation is."

President Nicolas Sarkozy's Conservative Government is torn between the needs of industry and employers on the one hand and his promise to the electorate in November last year that "he would never accept a general amnesty" (regularisation globale).

There are no precise figures on how many foreign workers 'without official papers' there are in France. Official estimates range between 200,000 and 400,000.

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