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France — Work permit chaos continues

28 October 2009

4,000 foreign temporary workers without official papers (sans-papiers) have been occupying 46 offices of temporary employment agencies, restaurants and other businesses in greater Paris (Ile-de-France) for 15 days now, Les Echos reports.

The foreign workers supported by French union CGT are demanding "a clearly worded document" from the government on their rights to live and work in France. They are accusing the French authorities of inconsistent and arbitrary treatment of their work permits.

The situation is becoming increasingly embarrassing for the French government and temporary employment agencies, which are accused of employing workers without official papers illegally. Eric Besson, Minister for Immigration is now on the case of coming up with a clear statement of what is allowed and what isn't.

CGT representative Francine Blanche said "apart from making the treatment of work permit applications consistent the whole process of applying must be simplified."

The situation risks getting out of hand since the occupied businesses are beginning to lose their temper. On Monday the offices of temporary employment agency Synergie in the centre of Paris were evacuated by force on the order of the TGI tribunal.

The tribunal has equally told strikers that they must today vacate the offices of the National Federation for Public Works (FNTP), which they have occupied since 12 October. Yesterday violence broke out between employees and occupiers at an office in the 12th arondissement of Paris. Three people have been detained by the police.



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