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Protests test French labour reforms

Thursday, May 12, 2016 - 01:33

French President Francois Hollande is facing a growing revolt in the streets and a wave of transport strikes over his decision to force through labour reforms. As Sonia Legg reports, his government has also been facing a vote of confidence called by the opposition.

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The government is caught between a rock and a hard place - at least that's the way it seems when it comes to labour laws in France. Reform them and this is how workers respond. Leave them and risk the economic consequences. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WILSON KING INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, HEAD OF RESEARCH, RICHARD HUNTER, SAYING: "The hire and fire rules are very different to those you might find in the UK for example and obviously what the French government is trying to do here is make those rules rather looser so in the event of a downturn companies can let people go as opposed to them needing to retain them during the financial crisis." Earlier this week the government opted to bypass widespread opposition and impose the reforms. Parliament had to face a confidence vote as a result. And now one union is calling for rolling rail strikes every Wednesday and Thursday. (SOUNDBITE) (French) SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE CGT UNION, PHILIPPE MARTINEZ, SAYING: "The most important thing is what the people are feeling. There hasn't been any dialogue with the unions because the bill was forced on us, and democracy has once again been brushed aside at the National Assembly. They should look at the polls because over 70 percent of the people in this country are against this bill." Prime Minister Manuel Valls' Socialist administration is standing its ground. But it's left an already deeply unpopular President in an uncomfortable position a year from elections. As well as protests Francois Hollande faced a rebellion within his own party this week - he survived, but only just. There's now media speculation his economy minister Emmanuel Macron may soon announce his intention to run for president too.

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Protests test French labour reforms

Thursday, May 12, 2016 - 01:33