Senate Support May Save Auto-Entrepreneurs

Support in the French Senate (or Upper House) may yet save the approximately 1-million strong Auto-entrepreneuriat from alternatives such as the dole or “exile” according to  leaders of a nationwide protest against government moves to kill the scheme.

The support comes after intensive lobbying by more than 100,000 sole traders urged on by FEDAE-Federation auto-entrepreneur, an umbrella organisation headed by its president and founder Gregoire Leclercq, and Les Poussins, a movement set up by self-employed video games programmer Adrien Sergent to defend a scheme that enabled him to create a career.

See this report for the background to the fight and here for more developments.

In an email to supporters Adrien Sergent said: “Two senators of the Commission de contrôle de l’application des lois, the house committee for law enforcement control, have tabled a report recommending there should be no intermediate ceilings on how much can be earned under the scheme nor any time limit on how long an auto-entrepreneur can remain registered under the scheme. ‘This (proposed)  law is like taking a hammer to kill a mosquito,’ said Senator Philippe Kaltenbach (Socialist Party), one of the rapporteurs examining the reform proposed by Crafts Minister Sylvia Pinel.”

Welcoming the Senate move Adrien Sergent said that while the minister had been deaf to the arguments of those affected, “at least some of our demands have been heard in the Senate, all is not lost and we can still stop this reform becoming law”. The next critical stage “will be when Cabinet discusses the bill in August”.

French Senators have a track record of curbing ministerial legislative excesses where they consider these unfair or otherwise impaired.

The email added: “We need to convince as many as possible of the danger of this reform. Download our protest kit here: it offers a flyer to hand around, a true / false statements summary, visual support and a signature to add to your e-mails. This kit in the hands of the 109,000 who have so far signed the petition can help spread our arguments to a wider public”.

Gregoire Leclercq President of FEDAE warns 1 million people could be added to the jobless rolls if the government's plans are not stopped.

Gregoire Leclercq, President of FEDAE, warns 1 million people could be added to the jobless rolls if the government’s plans are not stopped.

Meanwhile Gregoire Leclercq President of FEDAE urged the self-employed to make the issue a national cause. His organisation paints a stark picture: either government’s kill-off plans are halted or nearly one million auto-entrepreneurs face welfare queues or exile. FEDAE has coined the campaign slogan: “Stop the biggest layoff in France in a decade”.

The bizarre plan to destroy jobs in the middle of the worst European and French recession since the 1930s, appears to be driven by a desire to appease the powerful artisans lobby. They claim the scheme is unfair saying it offers self-employed builders and construction workers a way of paying lower social charges than artisans registered under other schemes. These claims have been officially debunked see here.

As Adrien Sergent noted in the video below, the potential for the sole trading scheme to expand to offer training, other opportunities and help to people wanting to work for themselves, will disappear if the government crushes the auto-entrepreneur regime:

 Watch the report below which includes the delivery of the Poussin petition (currently containing 109,000 signatures) to the Minister.

The incongruous contra-sense in the government proposal and the success of lobbying by France’s Chambre de Artisanat, a powerful group of artisans and craftsmen, was highlighted in this earlier reportage on Europe1.

The reporter, Axel de Tarlé, noted that while the government had declined to bow to demands to cap the bonuses and salaries of bankers and the finance sector they were happy to impose a restriction on sole traders that ensures they can earn little more than the national minimum wage before having to move to more onerous regimes of business incorporation.

Axel de Tarlé pointed out that one of the reasons the sole trading scheme was popular was because under all the other business regimes available, “a deluge of incomprehensible paper work and up-front charges hit the desk of any would-be self-starter before they have earned a single centime”. The decision to bow to the Chambre lobby is, he went on, “rather like government giving in to an argument that says small corner grocery shops should be closed because they represent unfair competition to the huge multi-national French hypermarket chains, that is the order of size on the issues raised by the Chambre de Artisanat”.

Listen to Axel de Tarlé’s report on Europe-1

As the battle continues an appeal for fighting funds has been launched which after just 23 days has seen 43% of the total needed raised. Go here to help
so far 43percent of the appeal has been raised go here to help

In May Nicolas Doze on his Les experts programme for BFM TV discussed the planned restrictions with his guests. The relevant part of the debate runs between 1:40 & 9:00 minutes of the programme:

Read more about the campaign on the Poussins facebook page and here on the FEDAE website

Self-defence for the Self-employed

Self-defence for the Self-employed

Story: Ken Pottinger
(Declaration of interest: the writer is an auto-entrepreneur)

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