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France Unemployment Near 10% Fueled by Laws Election Omits: Jobs

Tired of waits to fill orders and
lack of control over his Asian factories, Pierrick Haan, chief
executive officer of Dupont Medical, decided last year to return
production of some wheelchairs and medical equipment to France.

The 150-year-old Dupont Medical created 20 jobs making
custom devices at a plant in central France — and will stop
there. Faced with France’s stifling labor code, Haan probably
will send any additional production of standard equipment to
what he calls “Near France:” Tunisia, Bulgaria or Romania.

“The cost of labor isn’t the main problem, it’s the
rigidities,” Haan said in an interview. “If you make a mistake
in your hiring plans, you can’t correct it.”

While polls show job creation and the economic crisis are
the top issues for French voters in next month’s second-round
election, neither President Nicolas Sarkozy nor Socialist
Francois Hollande are focusing on Haan’s concern. Companies say
the biggest obstacle to hiring is the “Code du Travail,” a
3,200-page labor rulebook that dictates everything from job
classifications to leave for training to the ability to fire.

The difficulty of complying results in minimal hiring,
economists say. There are now 2.9 million people out of work in
France, almost 10 percent of the workforce and the most in 12
years. France has lost more industrial jobs than any European
country over the past decade and risks falling further behind as
countries including Italy and Spain loosen their own rules.

‘Exorbitant Costs’

“For the 100 employees we have in France, we have 10
employee representatives, for whom we have to organize weekly
meetings even when there is nothing to discuss,” Haan said.
“Every time a social security contribution changes, which is
frequently, we have to update software and send our HR people
for training. We can’t fire anyone without exorbitant costs and

Sarkozy and Hollande face off May 6 after Hollande won
28.6 percent and the president 27.2 percent in a 10-candidate
first round of voting on April 22. In Frouard, the town in
eastern France where Dupont Medical is based, Hollande won 32.9
percent while Sarkozy was backed by

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RobertButler Posted by on Apr 26 2012. Filed under 2012 Presidential Campaign. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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