France opens de­bate on new la­bor rules

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - INTERNATIONAL -

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.

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