As the nation prepares to host 2 million visitors at the Euro 2016 Football/Soccer competition in less than 2 weeks, labor strikes at oil refineries and nuclear reactors; fuel scarcities immobilizing aeronautics and public transportation system; violent street demonstrations; across the country riots; and a state of emergency till the end of July to cover the Tour de France has actually shown a significant headache for François Hollande-- currently the least popular French president since polls started in France.
Dynamite Trade Union Revolt Plunges France Into Mayhem
The first collaborative demonstration against the Socialist federal government since Hollande came to power in 2012, began on 9 March. On March 31, almost 400,000 people took to the streets, disagreeing with the sweeping changes to labor laws; though organizers put the number at 1.2 million.
On April 9, about 120,000 people marched in Paris and across France for a sixth time, objecting versus contested labor reforms. Organizers called for yet another strike on April 28, and a massive demonstration on Might 1, Labor Day. Reports of law enforcement officer encountering protesters, deploying tear gas in several French cities, and protesters burning cars, smashing windows flooded the Web.
In his reaction, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve stated in the city of Lyon:
“I call on the organizers of these demonstrations to condemn with the same firmness that I do the unrest caused by these handful of thugs.”
Requiring a complete withdrawal of the draft reform bill, French workers stepped up protests, rallies and blockades in the 3rd week of May. As per the current updates, one in 3 filling stations throughout the nation run dry, triggering long lines at usually well-stocked stations. There are blockades at 5 of France's 8 oil refineries. Almost 1/5th of nuclear power output is cut by striking personnel. Considering that the nation's electrical power supply has actually dropped, the government is compelled to dig into its emergency situation reserves.
On March 26, more than 150,000 marched against the federal government's plans making it simpler for firms to hire and fire. Reuters reports:
In the southwestern city of Bordeaux, about 100 individuals targeted a police headquarters, tossing things and damaging an authorities vehicle. In Paris and in the western city of Nantes, bank windows were broken and protesters clashed with police. The next big day of demonstrations is intended on June 14 [when French senators begin discussing the reform bundle], 4 days after the Euro 2016 soccer competition opens in France. The CGT warned it might be interfered with if the government refuses to withdraw the draft reform expense.
Although, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls wants to customize a few of the proposals, workers' unions are unwilling to pull back. Especially mad that the government is enacting a constitutional power to bypass parliament to pass the bill, numerous unions led by one of the country's biggest unions, the General Confederation of Labor (or the CGT), proclaimed in an open letter:
" This week, the actions, the strikes and the blockades by workers from a variety of markets to demand the retraction of this labor costs and to get brand-new rights reveal that our determination stays undamaged."
The Controversial Labor Reform:
1. Makes it much easier for companies to lay off staff and cut costs in difficult economic times.
2. Permits companies to pull out of national labor protection guidelines if they reach in-house offers on pay and conditions with the authorization of a majority of their personnel-- and not the trade unions.
3. Enables companies to extend the legal work week from current 35 hours to Two Days-- up to 60 hours with an 'exceptional authorization', and lower overtime from current 25% to not less than 10%.
4. Recommends surtax on short-term contracts targeted at getting employers to hire more individuals on irreversible contracts
5. Introduces a cap-- 15 months of pay-- on payment in cases of unjust dismissal.
Afflicted by declining popularity ratings and high joblessness, President Hollande, who staked his whole term in office on improving life for the country's having a hard time youth, states the labor reform is vital to tackle joblessness. Labor Minister Myrian El Khomri, too, safeguards the brand-new labor law dubbed “the bosses law” by its opponents.
“This law corresponds to the situation in our country. We have an unemployment rate of over 10% the same as it was 20 years ago. It has improved over the last month, however that is not satisfactory. Our country created fewer jobs than other European countries [Between 2013 and 2015, 57,000 jobs were created in France, 482,000 in Germany, 651,000 in Spain and 288,000 in Italy.] So for me the text and the goal of this reform is to be able to just improve access to employment.”
Nevertheless, opponents of the labor reform state it will threaten cherished rights and deepen job insecurity for young people by helping business fire personnel arbitrarily. Henry Samuel and Raziye Akkoc of The Telegraph observed:
The government thinks it will develop thousands of jobs but the IMF, and the French opposition say the reform does not go almost far sufficient to substantially reverse record joblessness, now at 10%, and soaring public debt, due to reach 98% of GDP next year.
What Lies Ahead
This is the very first time a Socialist French federal government has dealt with an across the country trade union rebellion in more than Thirty Years. The left's opposition to the reforms has been vast, threatening to tear apart Hollande's own support base.
The Independent Writes:
The proposed reform has compounded the fury of many within the Socialist Party and the further left at what they see as the treacherous, rightward course of the Hollande-Valls government. The protests have been led by the former Socialist leader, and “mother” of the 35-hour week, Martine Aubry, who has resigned from all her official positions within the party. Aubry complains that the rewriting of French employment law in line with “liberal” pro-market dogma is a betrayal of the French “social contract.”
An online petition opposing the suggested changes has been signed by over 1 million people, a record in France. According to a recent Le Parisien poll, a bulk of French people favor labor reforms, but 70% oppose the government's method of going about it.
It will be a political suicide for Hollande if he rolls back the labor reform-- he has guaranteed he will not run for re-election next year unless he handles to stem the increase in joblessness. However as The Guardian appropriately keeps in mind, it is not simply Hollande's political survival at stake, however the image of France itself.
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