Industrial disputes decline in 1997
Ministry of Labour statistics for 1997 show that the low level of conflict in French industrial relations has been maintained. This trend is now well established over a long period of time.
Statistics provided by the French Ministry of Labour for 1997 show that the number of individual working days lost through industrial action in 1997 was 838,000 (down from over 1.1 million in 1996 - FR9801190N). Of these, 383,000 were lost in the civil service, and 455,000 in private companies or nationalised state companies. The table below provides more details.
|Year||Civil service||Private and nationalised state companies||Total||Private sector and nationalised, % of total|
* Excluding France Telecom and La Poste .
Source: Ministry of Labour.
The key points to emerge from the statistics include the following:
- overall, the level of conflict remained at a low level in 1997. Since a high point in 1995, essentially owing to strikes in the civil service and nationalised companies, the trend has returned to that seen in the other years of the 1990s;
- the level of disputes in the private sector and nationalised companies is approaching the lowest seen for a very long time. However, the statistics' failure to distinguish between the private sector and nationalised companies makes it difficult to arrive at an accurate interpretation of what is happening in the private sector alone. However, it seems that the increase in the number of generalised strikes and the decrease in local ones indicates an extremely low level of disputes in private companies, as a large proportion of the generalised strikes concern state companies such as those in banking, radio and television; and
- grounds for disputes vary greatly depending on the size of company. However, in almost every case, job creation and working hours, and pay, both at 34%, lead the list of causes of disputes. Working conditions (15%) and issues concerning rights (17%) trail a long way behind, with these two reasons being more frequently found in small businesses.
The lack of clarity in the statistics adds to the difficulty of interpreting developments in the level of industrial disputes in France. The respective roles in the level of action played by unemployment and possibly by fundamental changes in the confrontational pattern of French industrial relations are hard to identify.