Denis Gautier-Sauvagnac, president of the UNEDIC
“We do not accept that the State takes the unemployment money to finance public spending and balance its budget.”
Right at the heart of social news. The arrival of Denis Gautier-Sauvagnac, president of the UNEDIC, at the Gimeca meeting, on Thursday at 6:00 at Nice airport business center, just corresponded with final negotiations about unemployment insurance reform. Before speaking in front of the group members Denis Gautier-Sauvagnac had phoned to Paris in order to taste the pending discussions. The situation was still nervous and it was very difficult to know if the government would accept or not the new version of the text.What does make the negotiations difficult? Denis Gautier-Sauvagnac:For months, the authorities have said the agreement is not valid. And, the precedent agreement had benefited from less signatures than this one has. It was not good for unemployed people, it has been said. And with the abandon of degression, the unemployed will receive 20 to 30% more allowances if they subscribe to PARE. What makes it difficult today is money. The question materializes by contributions. We hope that salaried people and firms unemployment contributions decrease and that these falls be acted on January 1st 2001 and January 1st 2002.The UNEDIC nowadays has 25 billion francs. In three years, with the planned falls in contributions, it will only have 2 or 3 billion francs. We accepted the contribution falls be put back (they had been planned to begin from July 1, 2000), which allows to plan about a 15 to 16 billion francs positive amount in 2003. We are ok to take a part in training actions for unemployed people who got out of the system and who did not have enough working time to benefit from rights. But what we refuse is that the State takes the UNEDIC money, the unemployment money to finance public spending and balance its budget.What are the risks after a break with the government? D. G-S:We have finished our walk. The decisions will be taken on Thursday and Friday. Two alternatives: the first one, the government accepts to agree an agreement which has been signed by the three representatives of the employers and by three out of the five unions, and by accepting both successive contributions’ falls. Or else, second alternative, the government decides thanks to a decree to nationalize the UNEDIC. In case the second possibility is taken, the government takes on the responsibility for a break of social dialog in France. However a useful dialog structure: paritarism.Does it imply a social restructuring? D. G-S:The heart of the social restructuring could be represented by a triangle. In an angle, contractual liberty. This is work organization in a company, in its branch, on an inter-professional plan (UNEDIC). The second angle, social public order (the age from which it is possible to work, weekly working time…). The third one would represent the subsidiarity principle. If there is no agreement in the branch, the firm or on the inter-professional plan, the main rule, the one of public order will be applied.We believe that social peace will not be done thanks to the law but thanks to the contract in the firm or the branch. Social restructuring targets to allow social partners to re-appropriate social dialog, in the respect of social public order which fixes main principles. The UNEDIC is one of the elements to apply. It is not the only one. Thus, if negotiations fail, social restructuring would appear as totally necessary. We have to prove that social dialog can live.