European Marches
against unemployment, job insecurity and social exclusions

 European Marches Archives Who we are Links Homepage


News from France

Two examples of struggles of young insecured workers of Pizza Hut and Macdonald's with already a victory of those of Pizza Hut.Permanent mobilisation of organisations of unemployed against the measures taken by UNEDIC (Joint organism which manages unemployment benefits) which mean that 850 000 persons until the end of 2005 are going to lose their benefits 6 to 14 months before the scheduled time limit. The mobilisation is spreading too against measures of the government which limits the time of a benefit illimited until now and which oblige those who live with the RMI (minimum income) to accept every job of 20 hours a week for 183 euros monthly more than the minimum income.

In Belgium, the unemployed shooting season does last ... all year !

Though we are no wild ducks...

At the end of the huge Cabinet which was set on 17th and 18th january, the federal minister of employment Fr. Vandenbroucke annouced that the new measures which will be forced on the unemployed on and after the 1st July 2004 have been agreed.

To summarize:

To make up for the suppression of the local checking and the interruption of article 80 of the unemployment benefits scheme (which can exclude, under certain circumstances the cohabiting unemployed from their right to benefits) the purple government (formed by the conservative and labour party) wants long term unemployed to reinforce their search for employment.

Until now, an unemployed was considered as a long term unemployed after 2 years of unemployment.

Now, he will be considered as a long term unemployed after 12, 18 or 24 months, according to where he lives, if there is a strong, medium or low percentage of unemployed in relation to the population of an age to work.

After these months, he will be called to the Employment National Office, and will be asked to prove he has been looking for employment seriously and countinuously (by having registered to trainings, in temporary work agencies, by having answered advertisements, used the internet etc.)

After this first interview, the Employment National Office will decide if his efforts have been sufficient. If they are, the unemployed will attend a new interview 9, 12 or 15 months later. If they are not, he will be called again 3, 4 or 5 months later, and he is asked to commit himself to his search for employment; his commitment will be embodied in a contract that he has to sign.

In this second interview, sanctions such as reduction or cuts of benefits can already occur.
During the third interview, the benefits of those who have not done their utmost enough will be cut for 4 months for cohabitants and will be cut down to the dole level for the others.(584 euros).

At the end of this process, very efficient on the unemployed income, the benefits of most of the long term unemployed might be completely cut off.
If this government has agreed to remove an article (art 80) of the unemployment benefits system scheme, which has consequently excluded 180 000 cohabitants these last 10 years, the current plan aims at excluding even more.

Here are some questions and thoughts of some unemployed:

  • How can anyone be asked to »look for a needle in a haystack« if there is no decent employment available ? This is very similar to harassment.
  • How can anyone cut unemployed's benefits off whereas a tax amnesty has been given to defrauders, and employers can make their employees redundant without accounting for it to anyone ?
  • The Employment National Office is judge in his own case when dealing with the unemployed's files. This is opposed to civil legislation.
  • Guiltiness presumption is not respected. Aren't the unemployed full citizens ?
  • How will the unemployed defend himself if he is told his efforts are not sufficient ? The decisions can only be arbitrary.
  • If this bill was voted in Parliament, it would make official that the right to benefits has become social help (as in order to be entitled to any benefits, one will have to deserve them!)

The neo-liberal philosophy of our government is proved, as unemployed are made responsible of their own situations, without taking into account the real situation of the labour market.

This projet is not acceptable.

Christiane Maigre et Stella Clausse
(Collectif belge des Marches européennes)

Download rtf


News from France

In Belgium, the unemployed shooting season does last ... all year!