New CNPF president elected
CNPF, the main French employers' association, elected Ernest-Antoine Seillière as its president in December 1997. Mr Seillière restated his fundamental opposition to the current bill to introduce the 35-hour working week, and announced far-reaching reform of CNPF's organisation.
Ernest-Antoine Seillière was elected as president of France's main employers' confederation, the Conseil national du patronat français (CNPF) at the organisation's general assembly on 16 December 1997. Mr Seillière - one of four candidatesE (FR9711182n) - received the support of 394 out of the 480 voters, representing the employers' assemblies and sectoral federations. The election followed the resignation of Jean Gandois in the wake of the October 1997 tripartite national conference on employment, pay and working time (FR9710169F), at which the Government announced its plan to introduce a statutory 35-hour working week.
The new president reiterated the CNPF's hostility to the Government's bill on the 35-hour working week (FR9712186N), a subject on which he based his campaign for office. Mr Seillière hopes that the CNPF will be a "constructive force" in the struggle against this bill. In a speech delivered just after his election, he described this measure as having been imposed in an authoritarian manner and said that it "would weaken our businesses and our country".
Mr Seillière also outlined the four main areas in which the CNPF would be working over the coming months:
- calling for a "new start in the dialogue between employers and unions". In Mr Seillière's opinion, "the French model of all-encompassing national level negotiations is currently being challenged in the world of business";
- revamping the system of joint decision-making between unions and employers, to avoid the latter having to be involved in, or support decisions which would threaten the balance of businesses. "The new social partnership we are aiming at will be defined later", he said;
- defining an "entrepreneurial plan for France", in which entrepreneurs play a "strong and constructive" role. Mr Seillière thinks that employers should work on "convincing" decision-makers, politicians, Parliament, and especially public opinion, by raising awareness about the "crucial part played by entrepreneurs and businesses in France"; and
- "overhauling the CNPF", especially to "clarify and modernise its role", while "becoming more representative by bringing together the large corporations and small businesses more efficiently".
The new president's first public act was to meet with the National Assembly's Social Affairs Committee the day after his election, to convey employers' opposition to the bill on the 35-hour working week.