France

French unions protest at Hollande government's flexibility law

Reuters/Jean-Paul Pelissier

Several thousand trade unionists joined a march against the Socialist government’s proposed labour law Tuesday, with the lower house of parliament set to approve it overnight.

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About 170 protests against the law took place across France on Tuesday afternoon as activists responded to a call from the CGT and FO union federations, backed by other smaller groupings.

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Another major union, the CFDT, has supported the bill, as have several small ones.

The government claims the law will create labour flexibility, modernising France’s economy and helping employers create jobs.

Opponents say it will make layoffs easier and reduce workers’ rights at employment tribunals and reject the government’s recent amendments as “palliatives”.

“It’s easy to see employers’ interest in more flexibility and mobility,” newly elected CGT leader Thierry Lepaon said on the demonstration. “But as for employees, they’re going to have a tough job convincing us that it will achieve its stated aim of creating jobs in our country.”

Communist Party leader Pierre Laurent pledged to fight the bill in the Senate, where the left has a majority of just six, promising “serious problems” for the Socialists if they have to rely on right-wing votes to push the law through.

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