Up to 25% reduction in unemployment benefits: a major offensive against all workers!

Photo credits: AFP

After a passage in joint joint committee last week, a deal was concluded between LREM and LR for the reform of unemployment insurance. This should be adopted in the National Assembly on November 15, and passed to the Senate on November 17.

This is an all-out attack on the rights of the unemployed. The heart of the reform provides for indexing unemployment benefits to the employment situation, leaving the government completely free to decide on the method of calculation.

At Le Parisien, Olivier Dussopt, the Minister of Labor explains that “in any case, it is not a question of lowering the rights of the unemployed, but of encouraging a return to employment when the economy is doing well and to better protect when the economy is bad. » Translated into French: the rights of the unemployed will go down… a lot! The government’s objective is to save 6 to 8 billion euros on the backs of unemployment insurance recipients.

For this, it is also the conditions for granting rights that will be tightened. The Republicans have monetized their support for the text. The abandonment of posts will now be considered as resignations whereas they have so far given rise to a dismissal and therefore to a right to unemployment. In the same way, two refusals in the same year of a CDI offer at the end of a CDD will be a cause for suspension of rights. A way for Dussopt, who says he is opposed to this last measure, to blame LR for worsening the conditions for the unemployed, while Horizons and Modem deputies (Macronist majority) were already defending these amendments at first reading.

To make it short: the rights of the unemployed will drop sharply from 2023

The idea of ​​the government is to apply indicators (green, orange, red) according to the situation of the unemployment rate and the number of jobs available. Currently, one day worked entitles you to one day of compensation (provided you have worked 6 months in the last 24 months). From now on, if the government’s calculations place the indicator in the green, the duration of compensation could be reduced by 25%! Concretely, rights to 12 months of compensation could be reduced to 9 months, rights from 24 months to 18 months!

If the situation turns “orange”, the duration could drop by 15%. A red indicator (a sign of rising unemployment and increased difficulty in finding a job) would allow the application of the benefits currently in force. Rights that have already been cut by the two components of the unemployment insurance reform led by Elisabeth Borne when she was Minister of Labor. Thus, if the situation for finding work deteriorates (at the discretion of the government), the unemployed will not be better protected. On the other hand, all rights will indeed drop, from 2023.

Because, unsurprisingly, the government believes that the situation is looking good and that it is therefore necessary to reduce the duration of allowances as quickly as possible. According to the Parisianthe government’s objective is to “tighten the conditions for compensation when the unemployment rate is around 7% (like today) in order to achieve the objective of full employment at 5%, and let go of the bridle, on the other hand, if it rises to 8% or more”.

According to figures from the DARES, in the 2nd quarter of 2022, there were 362,800 vacant jobs, a figure which includes both permanent and fixed-term contracts as well as seasonal and very short-term contracts. During the same period, the DARES indicated that there were 5,152,000 people registered with Pôle emploi. [1]including 2.9 million unemployed (Category A), the others being underemployed or in training, insufficient to live decently.

To this figure should be added what is called the “halo around unemployment” (people who are not registered with Pôle Emploi, who are no longer looking or are unable to apply): almost two million people (not compensated by Pôle emploi). In the name of 300,000 vacant positions, some of which are only precarious short-term contracts, Macron estimates that the more than 7 million unoccupied people in France should be able to find work and thus justifies cutting off their food.

Unions negotiate with the government instead of building the response

The government wants to implement the law from February 2023. After the vote on the law, the government will have until December 15 to legislate by decree. And he could add new attacks: the rapporteur of the law, Marc Ferraci (close to Macron and adviser for the XXL Labor Law ordinances of 2017), has been preparing the ground for several weeks so that the working time necessary for the opening rights also increases! Before Elisabeth Borne’s reform, it was necessary to have worked 4 months out of the last 28 months to open rights (with a right of recharging for one month worked), now it is necessary to have worked 6 months out of the last 24 months and any recharging only occurs after having worked again for a total of 6 months. LREM is considering increasing this to 7 or 8 months and thus excluding even more unemployed people from the allowance.

The details of this decree have been discussed, bit by bit, in multilateral or bilateral consultations with trade union organizations since October. The union leaders will be called for a final meeting on November 21. All this time, by their presence, they will have allowed Macron and Dussopt to give the illusion of a new method: to pass a law in Parliament which basically says “the government will see later and do what it wants”. , pretending to negotiate with the union leaders, in order to finally bleed white the workers deprived of employment.

The bureaucrats of the confederations come whining in the columns of the press that the government has not listened to them. Michel Beaugas of Force Ouvrière, thus denounces “a real game of dupe with consultations played out in advance. We begin by reducing the rights of everyone. There is something to be stunned.” Asked whether there is anything to be gained from these negotiations, Jean-François Foucard of the CFE-CGC could not be clearer: “Nothing is completely set in stone, but one thing is certain: duties will go down “. A masquerade covered by all the confederations from the CFDT to the CGT, the latter having only symbolically left the negotiations at the time of the requisition of the refiners.

The government and the capitalists wage a permanent campaign to divide the exploited among themselves. The hundreds of reports and speeches on “welfare” and alleged welfare fraud only serve to prepare new attacks against all working people. Because who says recession to come, says site closures, layoffs and therefore more unemployment. This reform is a preventive measure to make us pay for the crisis. For this, the bourgeois need to direct the anger of those who are being exploited against those who are forced into precariousness and unemployment and thus limit the solidarity between those who work and those who are unemployed.

Instead of talking politely with the government about salaries to pretend to be surprised when they are being screwed over and over again (on unemployment insurance, on pensions, on wages), the role of the union leaders should be to build a great mobilization of workers, the unemployed, retirees, youth and put all the means of the confederations at the service of several days of massive strikes to push back the government and the bosses.


The issue of calculating the number of unemployed is highly ideological, and depends on what one wants the figures to say. Thus, on November 15, the day of the vote in the Assembly on the reform of unemployment insurance, the press published the INSEE figures concerning the unemployed within the meaning of the definition of the International Labor Office: a person without employed during a given week, available to work within two weeks, who has actively sought employment in the last four weeks or has found a job that starts within three months. A definition which only encompasses 2.252 million people in the 3rd quarter of 2022 (2.27 million in the 2nd quarter), and from which the figure for the unemployment rate is announced, which then stands at 7.3%.

Up to 25% reduction in unemployment benefits: a major offensive against all workers!