IUF logo; clicking here returns you to the home page.
Uniting Food, Farm and Hotel Workers World-Wide

French Court Upholds Primacy of ILO Conventions Over 'Illegal' Employment Contracts

Posted to the IUF website 10-Jul-2007

Share this article.

In a landmark ruling, The Paris Court of Appeal on June 6 judged the two-year old "New Employment Contract" (Contrat nouvelles embauches, or CNE) to be in contradiction with international law - specifically Convention 158 of the ILO on "Termination of Employment" - and therefore illegal. The court's decision, which upheld and expanded upon a lower body ruling earlier this year, provides confirmation in national jurisprudence that ILO Conventions - which have the force of international treaties - trump national law where fundamental rights are concerned.

The CNE, introduced in the face of mass opposition by the government of Prime Minister Villepin, permitted new hires in enterprises with less than 20 employees to be terminated without justification at any time in the course of their first two years on the job. The Court determined that the two year period could not be considered "reasonable" or "proportional" in the light of the criteria and protections set out in Convention 158. The contract, said the court, effectively deprived employees of all rights regarding termination of employment during the two-year period, labelling it a "regression" which violated the right to work. The court, moreover, found it "paradoxical" to encourage hiring by facilitating firing, stating that "In the struggle against unemployment protecting employees at their jobs would appear to be at least as relevant as providing employers with the means to fire."

The text of Convention 158 - as of all other ILO Conventions - can be found here in English, French, Spanish, German, Russian, Chinese, Arabic and Portuguese.