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Initiatives of Change from 1908 on
The 1950s: Social dialogue in France
The 1950s: Social dialogue in France

Maurice Mercier, during a meeting with trade-unionists in Northern France

On the initiative of the French industrialist Robert Carmichael, who was concerned about a crisis in the textile industry, French employers and union officials met in 1950 in the IofC conference centre in Caux, Switzerland. This meeting built the necessary trust for negotiations which resulted in the first collective wage agreement in France being signed on 1 February 1951. This provided, for the first time, a profit sharing agreement with employees to improve productivity. Enthused by what he found in Caux, Maurice Mercier, General Secretary of the Textile Workers’ Federation, returned to France to bring further delegations from 80 companies, 50 from the textile industry, to Caux. Two years later, in 1953, the Union of Textile Industries and three of the trades unions put before the public their initiative to ‘honestly face together the basic problems standing in the way of gradual renovation and expansion of the textile industry in the common interest of workers, businesses and the country’. Ten years of social peace followed.