Futurs d'antan, Futuribles Journal n° 412

Économie, emploi - Entreprises, travail

Work in Twenty Years’ Time (1995): A Summary of the Report of the French General Planning Commission

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At a time when, as we go to press, the French government faces opposition from a section of public opinion to the El Khomri bill for the reform of labour law, it is interesting to re-read the report Le Travail dans 20 ans [Work in Twenty Years’ Time],published in 1995 by the French General Planning Commission –particularly the preface by its chairman Jean Boissonnat. Though that report contains some manifestly erroneous predictions (such as the fear that France will by 2015 be suffering from a shortage of labour), it turns out to be remarkably topical on the need to reform labour law, arguing that greater scope should be given to collective bargaining, that there should be greater flexibility on the labour market for developing employment, and that a limited-term “Activity Contract” should be introduced etc.

As this summary of the Boissonnat Report shows, government strategists were already calling for a transformation of labour law within a framework of partnership, to adapt French companies to observed or anticipated socio-economic developments. And their initial diagnosis is still valid today: “the primary cause of difficulties [is to be] sought… in the articulation between economic mechanisms and the operation of society… It is the collective inability of the country to conceive and organize work differently that must be challenged.” The recommendations of those days reveal themselves to be even more relevant today in the light of the developments we have seen, but the problem of their implementation remains wholly unresolved.

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