Opponents have feared changes will weaken France's hard-won worker protections
France's Labor Minister Muriel Penicaud gives a press conference with France's Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, in Paris, Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017. France's prime minister says five bold, and divisive, labor reforms are meant to "cure" not "treat the symptoms" of France's high long-standing jobless rate.(AP Photo/Thibault Camus), photo: AP/Thibault Camus
31 of August 2017 14:29:02
PARIS – President Emmanuel Macron's most daring undertaking, reforming France's nearly sacrosanct labor laws, got cheers and jeers as it went public Thursday. It trims union powers, adds a voice for small businesses and creates easier ways to hire and fire workers.The measures meant to foster growth, reduce the nation's stubbornly high unemployment and revolutionize the way the French work will get a hearing in the streets, with two protests planned for September.Overhauling France's complex labor laws, which authorities say have proved a hindrance to investors and employers, is part of a larger program by Macron to stimulate France's sluggish economy. The high-stakes move comes just as the new 39-year-old president's popularity is sinking. But plans to make the labor market more flexible were at the heart of his election campaign.
Opponents have feared changes will weaken France's hard-won worker protections that have become globally synonymous with the envied French lifestyle. Left-wing opponents fear the changes hand too much power to profit-focused bosses."Nobody today can seriously say that our ... labor law favors recruitment," Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said in unveiling the five measures. "The labor law as it is in our country is often perceived as an obstacle to recruiting, an obstacle to investment."Still, Philippe conceded the government was treading on risky territory politically.Even before the reforms were unveiled, the hardline CGT union called for a day of action Sept. 12, and on Thursday it encouraged retirees and students to join in. Far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon has called for another protest on Sept. 23.One key measure proposed by the government trims the role of unions, notably in small- and medium-size companies — which the prime minister said make up nine out of 10 companies in France and are "at the heart" of the reforms "for the first time."Under the reforms, companies with fewer than 50 employees can negotiate work rules with an elected colleague — not unionized — and companies with fewer than 20 employees can negotiate directly with their workers.Another new measure caps the financial penalty for companies sued by dismissed employees, easing concerns of bosses who fear that firing has become too costly. The measure creates a scale of remuneration based on the employee's seniority.Yet another change simplifies the departures of a group of employees if the company needs to adapt its staff, with direct negotiations with those leaving.French subsidiaries of multinationals need no longer justify firings based on the international economic climate. If the company is performing poorly, it can now use France alone as its reference to justify the layoffs.
President Emmanuel Macron of France has pledged to loosen labor regulations, but some unions are stiffly opposed https://t.co/YHRAXXAN5j— The New York Times (@nytimes) 31 de agosto de 2017