Talking about part-time

20th of September 2012
Talking about part-time

The French Cleaning Federation is organising a conference focusing on the issues surrounding part-time working, reports ECJ's Christian Bouzols.

As the country returns to work, the French Cleaning Federation (Fédération des Entreprises de Propreté - FEP) is happy that its proposals to hold a conference about part-time working has been accepted by the new French government. However it said that it would approach those talks with caution given the important issues as stake, as a large proportion of the cleaning sector's labour force are part-time workers.

“The Cleaning Federation is satisfied with its talks so far with the government. Its proposals and suggestions for action have been noticed, and some of them taken on board. This was the case of part-time working, an issue at the crossroads between worries about employment and concerns about working conditions (which affect many women workers). It will at last be possible to analyse and debate those issues,” said the FEP.

Actively involved in promoting social welfare and worker integration, the FEP also aims to be a policy maker on part-time working. Since the beginning of the year, it has officially been calling on the government to organise a conference on this important issue.

Social agenda

The government has responded favourably to this call and the Conférence de progrès sur le temps partiel “is now part of the government's social agenda and will afford an opportunity to explore new ways of organising work and to spread good working practices”.

All the parties concerned - management and unions, politicians, customers and sub-contractors - will have the opportunity to meet and discuss with experts and experienced people to reach a common understanding of the issues involved with part-time working so as to collectively determine ways of going forward in order to reduce the amount of part-time working and find sustainable solutions for all.

In his closing speech at a major social conference between representatives of industry and labour, prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault mentioned the achievements of the cleaning sector in reaching agreement among management and labour to institute full gender parity in the sector.

Progress needed

There are more than 4,300,000 part-time wage earners and entrepreneurs in France. However the French are not top of the league of countries making use of part-time labour (France: 17.6 per cent, Germany: 26.2 per cent, United Kingdom: 26.9 per cent, and 19.2 per cent for Europe as a whole).

Among the issues to be debated are :

• What are the causes of part-time working? In what way does legislation and regulation influence part-time working? To what extent are sub-contractors and companies responsible?

• What are the workers' expectations? What might frustrate these expectations ?

• How should multi-employer cases be taken care of ?

• What concrete measures can be taken to make progress towards more full time employment and fewer unsocial hours? And how might this affect job numbers ?

These and other issues will be feeding into the discussions between the government, industry and the unions during the coming months.


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