Laid-off French given Romanian jobs at EUR 110

27th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

STRASBOURG, France, April 27 (AFP) - A company in eastern France has sparked outrage by suggesting to nine workers who were made redundant that they accept jobs in Romania for a monthly wage of EUR 110 (USD 140), officials said.

STRASBOURG, France, April 27 (AFP) - A company in eastern France has sparked outrage by suggesting to nine workers who were made redundant that they accept jobs in Romania for a monthly wage of EUR 110 (USD 140), officials said.  

The Sem Suhner factory in the town of Schirmeck outside Strasbourg, which produces electric coils, laid off nine of its 38 workers, all women, as part of a redundancy plan.  

In early April, the nine women received letters, offering them jobs in a Romanian factory at a gross salary of EUR 110 a month, based on a 40-hour work week - five more hours per week than the French standard, officials said.  

"To be let go after 27 years with the company was a shock. But this proposal for placement in Romania made us laugh. We thought it was a joke," one of the nine women told the regional daily Dernieres Nouvelles d'Alsace.  

The nine employees all have refused the offer, local labour officials said.  

The revelation comes amid a heated debate in France over the relocation of jobs to low-cost eastern European countries, one of the issues fuelling the 'no' camp that leads in polls for the May 29 referendum on the EU constitution.  

Local union leader Alain Brignon called the proposal "scandalous" but noted: "110 euros a month is still 30 euros more than Romania's minimum wage."  

In France, minimum wage stands at about EUR 1,300 for a 35-hour week.  

"They dared to do it," read Wednesday's headline in the Communist-leaning newspaper Humanite.  

The company's chairman Michel White explained the lay-offs by saying they were necessary to maintain the firm's competitiveness, saying: "We are forced to produce at low costs. If we don't, we won't have any orders."  

"The law requires us to find a placement solution and our Romanian partner was the only one who accepted. The people involved are free to say yes or no," White added.  

But Nicole, one of the 29 workers still employed at the factory, called the offer insulting, saying: "To make this offer put us all down. Co-workers who gave their all to this company for 20 or 30 years deserve better than that."

© AFP

Subject: French News

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