Macron's labour reforms face protests across France

# 12 September 2017 05:49 (UTC +04:00)

President Emmanuel Macron faces the first challenge on the streets to his business-friendly reform agenda on Tuesday, when workers from the hard-left CGT union will march through French cities to protest a loosening of labour regulations, APA reports quoting Reuters.

Sounding a call to the working class, Philippe Martinez, the head of the Communist Party-linked CGT, branded the reforms a “social coup d‘etat”, but Macron will take comfort from divisions among France’s three main unions over the issue.

After weeks of negotiations, the government last month revealed measures including a cap on payouts for dismissals adjudged unfair and greater freedom for companies to hire and fire and to set pay and working conditions. It plans to adopt the new decrees on Sept. 22.

“I am fully determined and I won’t cede any ground, not to slackers, nor cynics, nor hardliners,” Macron told French business leaders on Friday during a trip to Athens.

French workers have long cherished a strict labour code protecting their rights. But companies complain it has deterred investment and job creation and stymied economic growth.

The reforms are being closely watched in Germany, where they are seen as a test of the French leader’s resolve to re-shape the euro zone’s second-biggest economy, a must if he is to win Berlin’s backing for broader reforms to the currency union.

CGT workers from the rail, oil and power sectors have said they will heed his call for strike action on Tuesday. CGT boss Martinez called Macron’s talk of slackers “scandalous” and said public discontent was rising.

Macron, asked on Monday if he regretted his choice of words, fired back: “We cannot move forwards if we don’t say things as they are.”