French budget sees modest cut in state jobs
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President François Hollande says he is pushing ahead with a campaign promise to add 60,000 state education jobs in five years. But France’s new belt-tightening budget forecasts a slight overall decrease in public sector jobs for 2013.
A new austerity budget unveiled by France’s Socialist government on Friday established a road map for 30 billion euros worth of spending cuts and new taxes in 2013. The budget also showed that President François Hollande’s first cabinet was planning to slightly reduce the overall number of public sector jobs next year.
A total of 1,287 state jobs will be shed as part of efforts to reduce France’s budget deficit from an anticipated level of 4.5 percent of GDP this year to the EU ceiling of three percent in 2013.
Though limited in number, the planned job cuts took many by surprise and could be exploited by critics on both the right and the left, many of whom held a rally in Paris against the new budget on September 30.
Hollande was elected in May on a pledge to combat Europe’s current austerity drive and create thousands of jobs in the public sector.
On Friday, the government said it remained committed to adding 60,000 education jobs over the next five years – one of Hollande’s key campaign promises.
A report published along with the new budget claimed that 6,778 public education jobs had already been created for the start of the current school year, and that the government would recruit an additional 11,000 education workers by the end of next year.
Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said the police and the judiciary, both earmarked as “priority sectors”, would also benefit from 500 new staff each.
Jobs under the axe
Hollande’s government is compensating public sector job creation in education, security and the judiciary with job-slashing elsewhere.
The Ministry of Defence will shed 7,234 posts next year, a figure consistent with plans to reduce France’s military budget by 2.2 billion euros in 2013.
France’s toughest budget in decades is also set to erase 2,353 posts from the finance ministry.
The government said that while some cuts to public sector jobs were inevitable, they were “very inferior” to the approximate 30,000 posts eliminated “every year by the previous government”.
Former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s policy of replacing only half of all retiring state employees was harshly criticised by the Socialist Party when it was in opposition.
By comparison, public sector employment in the UK decreased by around 270,000 in 2011 alone.
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