Unemployment Issues Continue to Trouble France

May 20, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. let go (v.) 
[let][goh] – to remove somebody from work
Example: The board of directors decided to let go of half the company’s staff.
2. employ (v.) [em-ploi] – to hire or ask to work in exchange for money
Example: Uniqlo employs hundreds of employees for each of its stores.

3. severance (n.) [sev-er-uhns, sev-ruhns]  - a formal term for the removal of an employee from a job
Example: The manager explained the reasons for the worker’s severance from the company.

4. enterprise (n.) [en-ter-prahyz] – a business organization
Example: Apple is an enterprise that started in Steve Jobs’ garage.

5. strategy (n.) [strat-i-jee] – plan made to reach a specific goal
Example: The soccer team followed their coach’s strategy and won the game.

Read the text below.

France’s current unemployment rate is now at its highest in 12 years.  For the past seven months, the rate has been increasing non-stop. Due to a weak economy, companies had to either let go of their workers or shut down completely.

Even companies like 140-year-old Veninov have been forced to close due to the weakened economy. Veninov used to print 15 million plastic tablecloths a year and employed thousands of people in its factories over the years it was in business.

This situation represents what’s happening all over the country. More and more people are losing their jobs. Meanwhile, those who still have jobs have to pay increasingly high taxes in order to support the jobless.

As a matter of fact, French workers now pay 20% more in taxes than workers in Germany, even though Germany has twice the number of workers in some sectors.

But employers are also suffering from France’s poor economic policies, says Philip Magne, CEO of a small company called Arcad Software. He says small enterprises are afraid of hiring new employees, because if business goes bad, workers would have to be let go and companies would also have to give the workers very high severance payments as required by law.

Meanwhile, French president Nicolas Sarkozy has promised economic policy changes and to reserve 500 million Euros to help France’s unemployed.

However, French citizens say his promises are not enough and are coming too late. Many critics also believe that the promises are part of a strategy to gain more votes in the coming election.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         How will you describe your country’s economic situation?
·         Do you think there will be enough jobs and employment for people in the future? Please explain your answer.

Discussion B

·         Do you trust politicians? Why or why not?
·         If you were a politician, how would you convince people to vote for you?


May 20, 2012