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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Fillon annonce une saignée de 30 000 fonctionnaires en 2009

by Lucy Bateman

Prime Minister Fillon Announces That 30,000 Civil Servant Jobs Will Be Slashed in 2009.

Translated Saturday 2 August 2008, by Gene Zbikowski

The Civil Service. The Prime Minister has confirmed that his goal is to replace only half of the civil servants who retire. “The budget has to decline,” he insisted.

Prime Minister François Fillon yesterday (July 9) set at “30,000, at least” the number of retiring civil servants who will not be replaced in 2009. As a guest on RTL radio, he confirmed that the government’s 2009 budget was based on not replacing one out of two retiring civil servants. Moreover, the prime minister indicated that the had “agreed” with Education Minister Xavier Darcos on not replacing 13,500 civil servants in the national education service next year. “The French government has been running a deficit for 34 years: if we’re to get out of this deficit, there are two ways to do it: either with an austerity plan (...) or there’s another solution, the one that we’ve chosen: that of making structural reforms.”

The government’s objectives.

In the afternoon of July 9, Fillon returned to the subject before the National Assembly and hammered home the point: “The budget mustn’t increase; it’s got to go down.” He reaffirmed that there would not be “an increase in the volume of government expenses,” that is to say, government expenses will not increase faster than inflation, from now until 2012. “For me, the requirement that there be a return to a balance in public finances is the main point in the mission that President Sarkozy has given me.” Speaking to the UMP deputies [1], who are having a hard time explaining government policy to their constituents, Fillon took a hard line: “Each of us has got to have the defense of this return to a balanced budget at heart, even when it’s difficult for us, even when it means sacrifices in our constituencies, even when it means abandoning a line that we have all put forward – and I no less than anyone else – for years and years, the line of always promising more and more.”

The mobility of civil servants.

For the moment, the government’s structural reforms are limited to organizing and managing paucity. The civil service will axe 23,000 jobs this year (including 11,000 in the national education service) according to the objectives set by the government, a figure that might even be exceeded by the end of the fiscal year, according to the trade unions. With modernization as a fig leaf, the General Review of Public Policies (RGPP) slashes staffing in government services. The law on the mobility of civil servants, which is to be considered in the Autumn, will make it easier to transfer a government worker from one ministry to another, will encourage the use of temporary and contractual workers for the replacement of absent civil servants, and will make it possible to retire or assign to non-active status civil servants whose jobs are axed and who reject three alternative job offers.

“The government is pursuing and intensifying its plan for massive job cuts in the civil service, come what may, despite widespread disapproval - as demonstrated by public opinion polls – that of federal employees, but also that of the French people, in general”, remarked Jean-Marc Canon of the General Union of Civil Service Trade Union Federations of the CGT trade union confederation.

Translator’s note :

[1the UMP, as the Union for a Popular Movement party is known, is the governing party.

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