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Labour struggles against mass redundancies in France: understanding direct action

Sylvie Contrepois (Working Lives Research Institute, London Metropolitan University, London, UK)

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Article publication date: 4 October 2011




This article aims to examine recent labour struggles against mass redundancies in France. It seeks to understand the well reported incidences of direct action within the terrain of how industrial relations operate and are governed.


Primary and secondary data sources are deployed to build and understand, in a grounded way, a case study of an industrial conflict.


The weakness of the regulation of employers, when allied to a number of considerations like union presence, has led to radical, direct actions. This highlights that overall the source of stimulus for action is worker weakness vis‐à‐vis the employer and not strength.

Social implications

To aid social peace in the workplace, further regulation of employer behaviour by the state is needed given the weakness of union regulation.


The article highlights that conflict takes place primarily in contexts where the institutions of the French republic are shown to be incapable of forcing employers to respect employment laws.



Contrepois, S. (2011), "Labour struggles against mass redundancies in France: understanding direct action", Employee Relations, Vol. 33 No. 6, pp. 642-653.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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