France opens debate on new labor rules
PARIS — The French Parliament began debating Monday a special measure making it easier and quicker for President Emmanuel Macron’s government to redesign the nation’s labor rules, one of the most divisive promises of his presidency.
The bill would allow the government to avoid lengthy, heated debate on a volatile subject in France. Far-left lawmakers have called the debate, to last for a week, the “mother of battles.”
France’s jobless rate has hovered around 10 percent for years, and Macron has vowed to bring it down by the end of his five-year term. Like other presidents, Macron insists on the need for more flexible labor laws making it easier to, for instance, hire and fire workers.
Details of the labor overhaul are to be unveiled in late August. The government proposes to cap the financial penalty for companies sued for firing employees, and to allow businesses more flexibility to define internal working rules.
Unions fear the changes will strip away hard-earned worker protections.
Under Macron’s predecessor, Francois Hollande, attempts to ease labor rules drew tens of thousands of people onto the streets for months.