Homeworkers challenge jobs, supply chain havoc weighs on French recovery


People wearing protective masks walk around the La Défense financial and business district in Nanterre as work rules have been relaxed with teleworking requirements gradually lifted amid the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID -19) in France, June 10, 2021. REUTERS / Pascal Rossignol

AIX-EN-PROVENCE, France, July 4 (Reuters) – A shortage of skilled workers, doubts about working from home and ravages in the supply chain are proving problematic for some companies as they try to overcome France’s recovery from the pandemic but are struggling to fill vacancies, business leaders said.

With less than a year to go before the next French presidential election, Emmanuel Macron’s chances of re-election will depend in part on the strength of a rebound starting to benefit some of France’s major industries, from luxury goods manufacturers to exporters of luxury goods. ‘energy.

At an annual economic conference in the south of France, some pointed to persistent labor issues, including a shortage of skilled workers, which had now been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic as bosses are trying to meet the resurgent demand.

The CEO of a major French manufacturer said his company had 150 job vacancies posted at two French factories and no resumes were coming.

“The crisis may have numbed people’s relationship to work,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of the Aix-en-Provence Economic Meetings. But the recruitment problem was more global, added the executive, claiming to have encountered similar problems in the United States.

As the epidemic spread across France early last year, the government implemented one of the most generous state-funded leave programs in Europe, while millions from office workers have switched to working from home.

While people initially enjoyed the experience, they began to question their relationships with colleagues and businesses, said the head of French postal service La Poste.

“The end of traditional contract work is a real issue on the table,” Philippe Wahl told a panel at the conference.

One company found that 20% of its workforce didn’t even bother to regularly connect to the company’s IT network during the worst of the deadlocks, a senior executive said.

Nearly half of construction companies, 41% of service companies and a quarter of industrial companies are struggling to recruit workers, according to the latest Banque de France business climate survey.

More fundamental issues were at play than the disruption of COVID-19, some companies argued. Ross McInnes, president of aircraft engine and equipment maker Safran, said the French school system needed fixing.

“All of our companies are struggling to recruit for fairly well paying jobs,” he told a roundtable.

Macron, a former investment banker, was enthusiastically supported by many business leaders in the last election. It has since adopted some labor reforms, making it easier to hire and fire staff.

Manufacturing and construction companies have the added headache of simply procuring the materials they need to fulfill customer orders.

Half of French construction companies and 44% of industrial companies faced supply problems, with a rate of up to 70% for car manufacturers, according to the Banque de France survey.

“The supply chain is a total mess,” said the CEO of French manufacturing, adding that his company had set up 23 separate working groups to tackle specific supply issues when the standard was one or two. The bottlenecks could last until the end of 2022, he said.

A global shortage of shipping ships and the metal containers they carry made it difficult and expensive to receive materials from overseas, forcing some to resort to higher-cost aircraft sourcing, he said. .

Editing by Nick Macfie

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