France : Workers protest against Macron’s labour reforms

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Paris — Tens of thousands turned out Tuesday for mass demonstrations intended to protest the country’s new labor code due to be adopted by the government on September 22. The rallies, launched by France’s biggest trade union, the hard-left CGT, were the first major street protests faced by President Emmanuel Macron whose labour proposals are intended to tackle high unemployment by loosening the rules that govern how business hire and fire employees such as flexibility in contracts and caps on compensation. The president’s plan is expected to grant employers greater freedom when negotiating terms and conditions with staff, such as working hours and pay, rather than binding them to industry-wide rules. Lower collective bargaining power will also tie into proposed measures calling for streamlined workers’ committees, which are mandatory within large companies. That would give employers the freedom to hire staff on a more flexible project-by-project basis. Macron’s government also proposes a cap on the compensation labor courts can award in cases of unfair dismissal.

The protests are mainly aimed at convincing Macron to abandon his latest labor decrees, which the unions and workers say are biased against them and largely benefit employers.