France scales back labour reform
March 14 2016 10:09 PM
Valls: I want a new start for this bill.


French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has unveiled a revised labour reform bill that makes concessions to trade unions following mass protests against the measures.
Tens of thousands of students and trade unionists rallied across the country last week against the government’s labour reform plans, which put almost all aspects of France’s strictly codified labour rules up for negotiation.
In the revised version, the government will no longer impose a cap on severance pay for dismissed workers, a measure many companies argued would have helped reduce the uncertainty of going through the industrial court system. Instead, the new limits will be introduced as non-binding guidelines.
“I want a new start for this bill,” Valls told union officials. “To reform is a demanding process. It’s about proposing, discussing and listening.”
The government and business leaders said the reforms would have encouraged companies to take on more workers on permanent contracts rather than temporary ones, helping bring down an unemployment rate stuck above 10%.
But the government came under increased pressure from Socialist lawmakers, concerned about how they will fare in the 2017 parliamentary election, and became wary of the burgeoning discontent among students, traditionally at the forefront of the largest protest movements.
Despite yesterday’s concessions, the CGT and FO unions said they wanted the government to scrap the bill completely, suggesting that Valls and President Francois Hollande may face further protests in the coming weeks.

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