In a scholarly essay, journalist François Roche retraces the attitude of the bosses in the face of the various crises that have marked the past hundred years.
“In a century, employers have always proven their ability to find a representative in line with the issues of the moment,” explains François Roche, economic journalist and writer. Since 1919, in full reconstruction of a country ravaged by war, and the creation – at the request of the Minister of Industry, Etienne Clémentel, anxious to find a representative interlocutor – of the General Confederation of French Production, by passing by the appointment of Georges Villiers, resistant and deported, at the head of the CNPF in 1946, until Medef of Geoffroy Roux de Bezieux, employers’ organizations and their leading figures have radically changed.
While keeping some constants. Like the desire to negotiate: “There has never been an empty chair policy,” emphasizes Roche. Neither in 1936, when the factories were for the first time occupied by workers, nor in 1981, after the election of Mitterrand, nor for the 35-hour week. The book stops at the dawn of one of the worst crises ever, when the French social model “is more being undone than consolidated”. It remains to be seen what role employers will play in the future reconstruction.