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Egotist comments spark strike row

Head of business federation ignites row as national strike hits France.

THE HEAD of France’s business federation has attacked unions as “egotists” and “demagogues”.

Critics have rounded on the head of Medef, Laurence Parisot, after she said the leader of one of France’s biggest unions, the CGT, had broken promises and added that the union was destroying jobs.

Parisot said that people should talk about union responsibility for the failure of certain businesses and the loss of jobs, particularly in Marseille.

“Thanks CGT,” she said in reference to the Union Naval Marseille, which went into liquidation following a strike with the loss of 130 workers.

In a recent report on pensions, Parisot also said that the refusal of unions to raise the retirement age beyond 60 was an example of their “indifference” to future generations.

The head of the CGT Bernard Thibault said: “Mrs Parisot is struggling to justify what is going on in big businesses, which benefit from public aid and then carry out restructuring.

“She’s trying to get out of the situation by discrediting the biggest union of workers in our country.”

On the subject of the Marseille strike he said: “If by that, Mrs Parisot means there is no place for workers’ protests, she’s going to be disappointed.

“She is proof of an old-fashioned attitude and her behaviour has made the situation more strained.”

“It wouldn’t be surprising if this doesn’t provoke more people to take part in strikes with Medef as the target,” he added.

The head of the Socialist Party, Martine Aubry said she was “extremely shocked” by Parisot’s comments.

“I find her statements indecent and I would even say unworthy as she is attacking a union which defends, supported by the French people, the current situation of those worried about massive unemployment and dropping spending power,” said Ms Aubry.

“Today we have directors who only talk about short term finance and I don’t hear anything different from their head, Mrs Parisot,” she added.

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Photo:Afp/Eric Piermon

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