We begin with a video report from euronews:
France: Strike raises stakes in showdown over labour reforms
With pumps at more than 4,000 petrol stations in France now partially or fully dry, the showdown between the government and the hardline CGT union over contested labour reforms intensified on Thursday.
Nationwide blockades and rallies, travel disruption and a strike at the country’s nuclear power plants are putting more pressure on Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls who insists the law won’t be withdrawn.
From Sputnik, raw footage of confrontations today in Paris between activists and police:
French Protest Against Labor Reform
France’s trade unions took to the streets of Paris once again to voice their opposition to French labor reform. Almost 19,000 French nationals have participated in a nationwide rally in Paris. The protest turned violent as police clashed with mask-wearing young demonstrators.
The reason for the massive action is a set of labor “reforms” imposed by the socialist-in-name-only government of French President François Hollande
BBC News summarizes the main point of the government’s new rules:
- The 35-hour week remains in place, but as an average. Firms can negotiate with local trade unions on more or fewer hours from week to week, up to a maximum of 46 hours
- Firms are given greater freedom to reduce pay
- The law eases conditions for laying off workers, strongly regulated in France. It is hoped companies will take on more people if they know they can shed jobs in case of a downturn
- Employers given more leeway to negotiate holidays and special leave, such as maternity or for getting married. These are currently also heavily regulated
The Deutsche Presse-Agentur covers the government’s response to the strike:
[Prime Minister Manuel] Valls said there could be some changes to labour legislation, which is aimed at easing employment regulations on issues such as dismissal practices and negotiating rules. But he rejected the possibility of entirely withdrawing the reforms as national strikes drew out fuel blockages and disrupted traffic across France.
“I am always open when some aspect should be improved, but on the main lines of the text, particularly article 2, there is no question of touching it,” said Valls on broadcaster BFM-TV. “We cannot cede to a desire to make the government fold by blocking the economy.”
Article 2 of the legislation changes the labour code to give working hours agreements at company-level greater clout than those made by unions at industry-level.
French President Francois Hollande, in Japan for the G7 summit, was quoted by French media voicing his support for Valls’ position.
Members of the umbrella CGT union, one of the seven unions that called for the nationwide strike, have called for a complete withdrawal of the legislation. Secretary General Philippe Martinez called for Hollande to live up to promises he made while a candidate.
From France 24, an interview with a representative of the union organizing the massive job action:
France Labour Law strike chaos: “We want more social rights for the workers”
Benjamin Amar, member of the General Confederation of Labour, CGT – Val de Marne, came to the studio to explain his organization reaction while the strikes and demonstrations continue in the country.
Lots more, after the jump. . . Continue reading