Dan Kersch under fire

Employment minister Dan Kersch has been attacked for a ‘surprising lack of understanding’ and for ‘showing disdain’ towards independents in two letters published on Wednesday. Anthony Dehez

Employment minister Dan Kersch has been attacked for a ‘surprising lack of understanding’ and for ‘showing disdain’ towards independents in two letters published on Wednesday. Anthony Dehez

The presidents of the CLC, the Fédération des artisans and Horesca have published an open letter to the minister of employment Dan Kersch (LSAP) about statements he made in a media briefing on Tuesday.

Fernand Ernster of the CLC, which represents the grand duchy’s trade, services and transport sectors, Michel Reckinger from the crafts federation and Alai Rix representing the food, drinks and hospitality sector, wrote that: “independents, contrary to what you seem to believe, also run the risk of unemployment.” They were responding directly to Kersch’s statement that the only people who can profit from partial unemployment measures are those who are available for the employment market, which, Kersch claimed “most independents are not, and don’t want to be.”

The authors of the letter explained that the self-employed are eligible for unemployment benefit, even if conditions for traineeships are stricter than for employees in order to avoid possible fraud. “This lack of knowledge of your own statutory instruments surprises us,” they wrote.

The signatories of the letter also pointed out that, of the 21,000 “self-employed” in the grand duchy, 18,000 have an average monthly contributory income that barely exceeds €4,000 euros (over 12 months). They say that many independents use that €4,000 to pay back the financing of their business adventure, for which they have incurred personal debt. “To all these people, your words are simply a humiliating slap in the face, unworthy of a government minister,” the authors say.

The letter also includes a demand “that the employment fund, to which the self-employed contribute through their taxes, be used as a replacement income under the same conditions and subject to the same restrictions as for the employees of our companies.”

Disdain for independents

In a separate letter, the newly founded AlliancUp group, has written to prime minister Xavier Bettel complaining about Kersch’s opinions. AlliancUp president Giovanni Patri wrote that Kersch’s statements were not only inappropriate in making a distinction between rich and poor independents, but also had shown nothing but disdain for independents.

“Being independent is to pay taxes, salaries and to invest in our economy,” Patri wrote. He said it is up to independents to meet the challenge to put food on the table for their families and those of their employees. Citing a typically flamboyant open letter written by lawyer Gaston Vogel last week, Patri asked Bettel to hear “that thud, which is the wrath of the country that is growling.”

AlliancUp, which emerged from the Rescue Independents & Startups Facebook group, was created “to represent, defend and safeguard the professional, moral and economic, social and legal interests of its members exercising an independent activity or wishing to exercise it or in the form of a Startup.”