TRADE UNIONS protested in Paris yesterday as President Emmanuel Macron unveiled his new labour “reforms,” which would make it easier for bosses to hire and fire.
Mr Macron wants parliament to vote on the new legislation — the third attack on workers’ rights in the past few years — without a chance to amend it.
Justifying the new measures, Mr Macron said: “We are the only major economy of the European Union which hasn’t vanquished mass unemployment in more than three decades.”
France has an unemployment rate of 9.5 per cent which the president has vowed to cut to 7 per cent by 2022.
The country’s 3,000-page labour code is seen by the neoliberal leader as the major cause of joblessness in France, although other large European countries such as Italy and Spain have higher unemployment and the eurozone average is 9.1 per cent.
Hundreds attended a protest called by union federations CGT and Solidaires, Right to Housing and Attac France in the Parisian suburb of Jouy-enJosas against the reforms.
“Mr Macron represents the big bosses, and those who want to cut public services, social protection and everything achieved by workers,” one protester said. “It is about ideology,” another insisted.
“To be able to sack workers more easily and stop work. “In fact, he wants to get rid of employee protections altogether.”
The unions have called for mass demonstrations against the new law on September 12, but two of France’s biggest unions, the Force Ouvriere (FO) and CFDT, have said they will not take part.
New left France Unbowed party leader Jean-Luc Melenchon has called a further protest on September 23.
The reforms announced by French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe yesterday include five core measures.
One allows employers to exclude unions when negotiating redundancies with staff.
Another puts a limit on compensation for unfair dismissal based on time served. The maximum will be 20 months’ salary after 29 years of employment.
The legislation would also allow small and medium enterprises to negotiate outside of industry-wide collective bargaining agreements.