EdF-GdF, France's state-owned electricity and gas utility, has increased its total work force by 1842-the first rise in 15 years. The extra jobs come despite EdF losing its monopoly and setting a goal to reduce its costs by 30 percent in three years. The increase results from the January 1999 EdF-GdF union working-hours agreement in which management agreed to reduce weekly working hours to between 32 and 35 to create 3000 to 5000 jobs in three years. In return, managers asked for moderate wage claims, less overtime and higher productivity.
The job creation agreement began on shaky ground, with 1100 jobs lost between January and May last year. However, following union protests, local talks started, and 6816 people were recruited in 1999 compared to 3150 recruits in 1998. The agreement provides for 18,000 to 20,000 jobs in the next three years. Retirement accounts for 4000 to 5000 jobs annually.