Le Monde reports that the department of Haut-Rhin (centred on Colmar in Alsace) is considering introducing seven hours a week of compulsory voluntary activity as a condition of receiving the Revenu de Solidarité Active – Eric Straumann, the man making the argument, acknowledges that it’s an oxymoron. Le Monde raises questions as to whether this is legal, and it carries a blistering attack on the idea.
French law is a veiled mystery to me, but I can’t see why it wouldn’t be within the rules. Obligations have been built into to the system since the introduction of the Revenu minimum d’insertion in 1988, and the reform of the system into the RSA was supposed to strengthen them. The RSA has two main elements, or volets: part concerns the benefit, which is not down to local administration, the other part concerns the agreements between claimants and the authorities, which are intended to promote social inclusion. This is often whittled down to a simple agreement to look for work, but in principle they are also capable of including a contrat unique d’insertion, an individual contract for social inclusion. Straumann says that claimants will have “the liberty to choose which voluntary group and which activity”, and that is largely consistent with the requirement to promote social inclusion. The idea has always been double-edged.