Reactions to FEDEM’s request to annul a bill protecting employees from dismissal during the health crisis have come swift and hard from trade unions, the National Council and the Prince’s Government.
A can of worms has indeed been opened. When the Federation of Monegasque Businesses (FEDEM) announced last week that they were appealing to the Supreme Court to nullify an emergency law passed in Monaco disallowing unfair dismissals, it sent shock waves through the Principality.
Philippe Ortelli, who heads up FEDEM, was clearly a man on a mission, angry with the law and ready to fight for what he claims is an impingement on employers’ rights. “This text excessively and radically limits the possibilities of dismissal (…),” says Mr Ortelli in his request to the court. “By this measure, we consider that the legislator has disproportionately infringed the freedom of work guaranteed by our Constitution, as well as the faculty to break an employment contract, a component of this freedom.”
His strong words were soon followed by outrage among supporters on the other side of the fence. The first to speak out were the trade unions, who have long fought against a law which allows employees in Monaco to be fired without reason or delay. The idea that employers could unceremoniously axe staff for any reason during a major health crisis was unbearable.
“This law was passed following the abuse of certain bosses,” said Olivier Cardot, Deputy Secretary General of USM. “The National Council and the government made a good decision with this law. This appeal demonstrates the perfidy and the infamy of the FEDEM.”
It was Health and Social Affairs Minister Didier Gamerdinger who publicly denounced the dismissals of several employees that occurred as the Covid epidemic was hitting fever pitch.
Then the government shot back at FEDEM’s move, saying: “If some employers in the Principality had not used redundancies at the start of the crisis, while other simple and more humane employment solutions were available to them, it probably would not have been necessary to ‘strictly supervise these breaches of the employment contract’.”
The National Council also had some choice words, with Thomas Brezzo, President of the Legislation Commission, saying: “This government bill took up a unanimous National Council bill, and was promulgated by the Sovereign Prince in accordance with the Constitution. This is proof of the unity of Monegasque institutions around this protective text for employees, a natural counterpart of the state support provided to employers by the CTTR. Recall that at the origin of this text, there were dismissals without reason at the beginning of the crisis, which shocked everyone.”
He added: “In addition, the temporary dismissal ban, justified by the crisis, will be lifted with the end of the health emergency on 18th June. This appeal clearly translates a will to promote a dogmatic ideology instead of defending in a pragmatic way all the actors of our economy, as did the National Council through numerous proposals.”
One member of the National Council, Corinne Bertani, sits in a rather awkward position as both a council member and a member of FEDEM’s executive committee. She said she was unaware of Mr Ortelli’s filing until after the fact, and that she is not in accord with his decision.
“I fully assume my role as national adviser, working with all of my colleagues to defend the general interest and protect the population and employees of the Principality,” said Ms Bertani. “This text also makes it possible to save many companies in sectors directly impacted such as events and tourism, thanks to measures to preserve their treasuries in particular. I cannot therefore be in solidarity with the position of the president of the FEDEM, not having been consulted on the one hand, and approving on the other hand without reserve the devices contained in the law challenged more by ideology in my opinion, only out of a desire to support the economy on the road to recovery.”
A decision on the fate of the law is out of everyone’s hands except the court’s at this point, but come what may, Philippe Ortelli has certainly made himself a highly unpopular odd-man-out on this one. The question still stands though as to whether the court, who must decide purely based on the law and not feelings, will rule to defend the employees or take the side of their bosses.
[caption id="attachment_2192" align="aligncenter" width="740"] Aerial view of the Ivory Coast capital, Abidjan[/caption]
The Regulatory Authority for Telecommunications in Cote d’Ivoire (ARTCI) is reviewing three offers for new mobile concessions, including one from Monaco Telecom.
This comes just one week after ARTCI took the drastic action of removing the GSM mobile licences from Comium and GreenN for allegedly "underperforming," capacity media.com reports.
Telecoms minister Bruno Nabagne Kone told the Reuters news agency that the government is considering offers from Monaco Telecom, Vietnam’s Viettel Group and the Libyan Post Telecommunications and Information Technology Company (LPTIC). Ironically LPTIC is the parent company of GreenN.
Nabagne Kone said: “We have three offers which will undergo an independent assessment, then a decision will be taken by the government.” He also said that the watchdog may decide to preserve the three-operator market – comprising Orange, MTN and Moov – if the offers are not good enough. This is contrary to ARTCI’s stated aim of re-aligning the region’s mobile market within a four-player framework.
To stimulate the market, ARTCI is promising a fair redistribution of spectrum resources. For its part the watchdog expects any new player not just to be able to provide a good GSM phone service but also be capable of providing fixed line, fast data and internet connections.
A number of sources have stated that Viettel Group is considered the most likely successful candidate given its track record in markets such as Burundi, Cameroon and Tanzania.
More than 150 years ago, before the urbanisation of the Principality, ninety percent of its land, which in those days included Roquebrune and Menton, was used for agricultural development and farmers were taxed on citrus produce.
When the railway link connecting Monaco to France began service, five years after SBM opened the Monte Carlo Casino in 1863, tourism quickly replaced the agriculture economy as visitors, either looking for Lady Luck at the world famous casino or wanting to take a gander at how one percent of the other half live, descended in steady numbers on the principality.
[caption id="attachment_11242" align="alignnone" width="709"] Philip Culazzo makes Monaco's only orange liqueur[/caption]
Although today’s Monaco is described as “100 percent urban”, it still has a trace of those agricultural roots, with its 600 bitter orange trees, which you’ll find along avenue Grande-Bretagne, and boulevards Suisse, Italie and Moulins. A detail not overlooked by resident Philip Culazzo.
“I trade foodstuffs,” Mr Culazzo, who’s lived in the Principality for seven years, tells Monaco Life, “and I understand quality control. Monaco’s orange trees are organic, they are not treated with pesticides, but they are too bitter to eat, so charitable organisations cannot use them. It’s a shame that they are wasted.”
Mr Culazzo, a Dubliner with French and Italian heritage, was also aware that while Monaco offers a great deal in terms of sightseeing and culture, and visiting family and friends, there was no locally-made product that tourists could buy as a memento or that residents could offer to their guests.
Two years ago, Mr Culazzo contacted the government to inquire whether he could experiment with some of the bitter oranges. He bought distilling and fermentation equipment and started testing. When he presented the results to the administration, they were on board. He founded l’Orangerie in 2015.
“I love wines and spirits, and often visit vineyards on holidays,” he told Monaco Life from his recently opened shop at 9 rue de la Turbie, near Place des Armes. “I’m not an oenologist, I’m not a scientist, so I’m learning about the chemical process of transforming oranges into a digestif that tastes this good.”
Four ingredients make up l’Orangerie: Monaco bitter oranges, a small amount of sugar, water and alcohol. Similar to limoncello, the alcohol content is 30 percent. Last year, 15,000 tonnes of oranges produced 50,000 bottles.
“There are no added colours or chemicals, the drink is 100 percent natural,” Mr Culazzo explains. A framed letter in French on the wall behind him expresses appreciation for the bottle of l’Orangerie, the first ever produced, from HSH Prince Albert.
“You may find some deposits at the bottom of the bottle, but this follows the trend of organic wines also.”
The orange liqueur is produced entirely on site, from the manual peeling to production. During the two-month harvest, which started the first week of January, a month earlier than usual due to the warmer weather, Monaco’s garden services deliver crates of Monaco’s finest (and only) citrus directly to rue de la Turbie. The fragrance of the oranges cannot be contained within the atelier.
[caption id="attachment_11800" align="alignnone" width="640"] Philip Culazzo offers a degustation to Secretary of State at the Palace, Mr Jacques Boisson, and his wife.[/caption]
Secretary of State at the Palace, Jacques Boisson, and his wife, returning to the Rock after lunch, are intrigued by the aroma and the colourful window front so decide to pop in. They’re offered a degustation of the orange liqueur by Mr Culazzo.
The Boissons, a delightful couple who lived for many years in New York and also Paris, are instant fans of the drink – “very fragrant, ideal as an apéro with friends” – and purchase a bottle, which sells for €25.
“My goal is to sell 50,000 bottles a year,” says Mr Culazzo. “The idea is Monaco first and foremost, and I hope people will have a bottle in their homes to offer visitors.”
The eye-catching bottle, which reflects glamour of the thirties, uses a textured paper like an orange peel. L’Orangerie has permission to sell bottles directly from the atelier, but it’s also available to buy at the Wine Palace and Mr Room Service. Otherwise, restaurants, beach clubs, bars and nightclubs in Monaco are beginning to stock it.
Already the orange-flavoured liqueur has inspired several cocktails: The Monaco Spritz (orange liqueur, Prosecco, ice and zest), The Rocher (with gin) and the rose-syrup La Gracieuse, and surely more will follow.
Article first published February 16, 2017.