French workers use language law to retain French in the office as firms favour use of English

Workers in France protesting against companies who have made English the dominant language in the workplace are successfully invoking a law that mandates the use of their native language in official documents.

The law, known as La loi Toubon after the government minister who piloted it, has led to one firm, General Electric Medical Systems, being fined Euros 580,000 (£406,000) for failing to translate company documents into French.

In another case, an accountant had his complaint upheld that computer programmes were only available in English. The company, Europ Assistance, was ordered to get the programmes translated into French or face a Euros 5,000 (£3,500) fine for each day it failed to comply.

Workers are being supported in their claims by the Right to Work in French in France Collective, a lobby group that is waging a campaign against firms who seek to impose English at firms based in France.

Jean-Loup Cuisiniez, a member of the group and an official with the CFTC trade union, said: “We are not against the English language, but against employers forcing it on their staff.”

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