PARIS: French hotel and restaurant owners are lobbying the government to regularise more illegal migrants in order to fill 100,000 jobs for which they have found no French takers.
"We're facing a huge shortage in our sector," Roland Heguy, president of the hotel industry body UMIH, told AFP.
"Companies are finding no one, which is why we want to facilitate the integration of refugees in our businesses," he said.
France, like many developed economies, is struggling to fill low-paid, manual jobs. Turnover is high in the hospitality sector, where kitchen work and cleaning jobs are seen as particularly unattractive by many.
At a meeting with government in mid-July, industry representatives called for measures to make it easier to hire migrants.
In an interview Wednesday, Heguy said the industry was in a position "to issue 100,000 job contracts straight away", half of them for permanent positions and half for seasonal jobs.
France received a record 100,000 asylum requests in 2017, up 17 percent from the year before.
Under French law, refugees can work once they get their papers but asylum-seekers must wait nine months after filing their claim for refugee status before taking up a job.
An immigration bill passed by parliament last week -- but which President Emmanuel Macron has yet to sign into law -- cuts the waiting time to six months.
The CGT, France's biggest trade union, said it supported the idea of regularising undocumented workers but said employers also needed to try to make low-paid jobs more attractive.