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France — One in three job centre workers went on strike yesterday

21 October 2009

According to management of the French job centre 'Pole Emploi', 34.5% of the 46,000 employees who work for the official government job agency decided to go on strike yesterday against unacceptable working conditions, les Echos reports.

Malaise among 'Pole Emploi' employees has been growing over the last year. The government agency was created in December 2008 by merging the previous organisations ANPE and ASSEDIC. However, the drastic increase in unemployment since then has created an enormous amount of extra work for an organisation, which is still suffering from re-structuring problems.

One employee has already committed suicide at work. Five others have attempted to but failed. In the country where 25 employees of telecoms provider France Telecom have committed suicide recently, this has created an atmosphere of hysteria and helplessness.

Laurent Wauquiez, Secretary of State for Labour, told radio station France Inter, "measures such as telephone help lines, management training and a network of occupational therapists have already been put in place. A questionnaire on worker satisfaction has also been sent out to all 'Pole Emploi' employees."

Wauquiez acknowledges that the problems are related to the combination of the merger of the two previous organisations and the impact of the economic crisis on workload.

Xavier Darcos, Minister for Labour, has stated in his emergency plan on stress at work (plan d'urgence sur le stress) that large organisations like 'Pole Emploi' need to reach agreement with their employees on working conditions by February 2010.



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