Opening the way to the first social reform of the second five-year term, the bill paradoxically aims initially to be able to extend the current rules of unemployment insurance. Coming from an already controversial reform of the first five-year term, they expire on October 31.

This is to avoid “a break in compensation” for around 2.5 million job seekers, said government spokesman Olivier Véran after the Council of Ministers.

More than the content of the text, which will be discussed at the start of the return to parliament in October, the debate concerns the sequence that it sets in motion “in the logic of the double temporality of the emergency and the profound reforms” according to M Veran.

“In the very short term”, within “a few weeks”, according to Mr. Véran, the government will seize the social partners of the question of a modulation of unemployment insurance so that it is, in the words of Emmanuel Macron, “stricter when too many jobs are unfilled, more generous when unemployment is high”.

This will be done “as part of a consultation” and not a negotiation, said Wednesday on franceinfo the Minister of Labor Olivier Dussopt, adding that in this case, “it’s an exchange, it’s a discussion, these are proposals, counter-proposals (..) and in the end the government takes the decisions it must take” by decree.

The objective is to arrive at criteria — the unemployment rate for example — whose upward or downward evolution could determine the number of months of work required to access compensation (6 months currently on the last 24) or the duration of it.

The executive insists, like Olivier Dussopt, that there is urgency in the face of recruitment difficulties and makes this reform one of the conditions for achieving the objective of full employment (an unemployment rate of around 5 % against 7.4% currently) in 2027.

This reform is demanded by the employers’ organisations, the CPME (small and medium-sized enterprises) deeming it “urgent” because certain companies must, for lack of personnel, “give up contracts or reduce their activity”.

– “Before the end of the year” –

According to the economist and Renaissance deputy (ex-LREM) Marc Ferracci, one of the instigators of the 2019 reform, “dozens of studies prove that the rules of unemployment insurance, in particular the duration and the eligibility thresholds, have an effect on the level of employment”, especially for the most autonomous unemployed in their search.

False, retort the unions for whom the difficulties of recruitment are primarily linked to training and the attractiveness of the professions (salaries, working conditions, mobility, etc.).

Meeting Monday at the CFDT headquarters, the unions agreed on their opposition to negotiating such a “countercyclical” measure and should publish a joint text to this effect next week.

It will focus “on the current problem of employment and recruitment difficulties which will not find an effective response with a reform which further reduces the rights of the unemployed”, said Marylise Léon (CFDT).

“We want to negotiate a new unemployment insurance agreement, but on condition that we are left in control”, adds Michel Beaugas (FO). “The reality is that the executive gives guarantees to the Medef which therefore has no interest in negotiating with the unions”, deplores François Hommeril (CFE-CGC).

In fact, the president of Medef, Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux, has already judged that “opening negotiations will be useless since it will not succeed for lack of a diagnosis shared with the unions”.

By choosing consultation, the government, which wants to move quickly, seems to have acted on this lack of appetite on the part of the social partners to negotiate. He wants an implementation “before the end of the year” according to Mr. Dussopt.

In the longer term, the government intends to open another project on the governance of Unédic, the joint unemployment insurance scheme, in connection with the reform of RSA support and the creation of France Travail, which is to succeed at Pôle emploi and better coordinate the players involved in employment. On this last point, “I hope that the implementation will be possible gradually from 2024”, he said on Wednesday on BFM Business.