The 2012/03/14 at 13:05
Matthieu Giroux (article) et Pélagie Harbour (vidéo)
On 11 April this year, the Cour de Cassation will confirm – or not – its ruling regarding the cancellation of a downsizing plan at software editor Viveo France. In 2010, the company, which underwent a drop in its turnover at the time, decided to embark on restructuring: 64 positions out of 180 were concerned. The CE (comité d’entreprise or works council) demanded an expert report to assess the company’s viability. The document noted, following an investigation, the company’s profitability in France. After being cast around the court system, the CE finally won its case at the Cour d'Appel de Paris (Paris Court of Appeal) on 12 May 2011.
If the ruling is maintained, the notion of retrenchment may well be challenged, a prospect that is worrying for Léon-Bernard Krepper, an elected official at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Paris (CCIP). “Companies are obliged to safeguard their competitiveness and to reorgnanise themselves. In this framework, retrenchments may take place. This is one of the cases foreseen by the Code du Travail (French employment code). Challenging the legitimacy of a company head in this way is already surprising.” In the eyes of this official, French legislation is “unbelievably complex. My thoughts are for the SMEs at the heart of economic development. I don’t really see how young company heads can find their way.”
A lack of competitiveness and attractiveness may well be the consequences of this decision for French industry. According to Léon-Bernard Krepper, France should not ignore the globalised context. “A company is not isolated. It should take into account national and international competition. We cannot fight foreign companies without the same restrictions with equal weapons.” Two entrepreneurial models dominate in Euorpe, believes the CCIP official, “the Anglo-Saxon model, very attached to company dynamism, adaptation and flexibility”; and the French model, more “public servant-like” that “considers “employment as a right. Whoever questions this finds themselves in a negative situation.”
While Léon-Bernard Krepper is critical about the French model, he remains attached to it. “There are bodies such as works councils, central committees and staff delegates, but I would like these interlocutors to be closer to the company. The future of the company is found within the company.” If the Cour de Cassation confirms the ruling on 11 April, “tax insecurity will be doubled by social insecurity”, considers the official. “We are in the midst of organising inertia. With all these restrictions, how do you expect foreign businesses to set up in France? How can you expect French companies to remain in France with such risks?”
Find this topic shortly on actu-cci.com. Sylvain Niel, Managing Partner of the FIDAL firm and President of the Cercle des DRH, will voice his view on the Cour de Cassation decision.