French unemployed to demand compensation from jobs centre

Six French jobseekers will make history this week by demanding compensations from the national employment agency of up to 300,000 euros ($390,000) each for failing to find them jobs, their lawyers said Tuesday.

A record 3.26 million people are now unemployed in France and Socialist President Francois Hollande's pledge to reverse the rise in joblessness by the end of the year seems untenable, experts say.

The government blames the situation on the eurozone crisis and says it inherited a messy economy from the conservative government of Hollande's predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy.

Florent Hennequin, one of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs, said they along with the influential CGT trade union will file the demand for compensation from Pole Emploi at its Paris headquarters on Friday.

The jobseekers complain that local employment centres have not helped them enough to find work nor given them training.

One of the six is a 54-year-old former manager who currently delivers newspapers part-time.

He signed on at the employment centre in the Paris suburb of Issy-les-Moulineaux in February 2009 but was only accorded three meetings with Pole Emploi officials, despite repeated requests.

He did not receive a single job offer in three years. An administrative court last September ordered the centre to meet him within eight days and then on a regular basis.

The Council of State, France's highest administrative court, then ruled his case could not continue on a priority basis.

"We are now using the usual judicial path with a demand for compensation from the Pole Emploi," Hennequin said.