Union protests against French labor reform losing steam

Union protests against French labor reform losing steam
# 21 September 2017 20:17 (UTC +04:00)

Far-left trade unionists marched through cities across France on Thursday in a second day of protest against President Emmanuel Macron’s overhaul of a labor code long cherished by workers, although their numbers were lower than a week earlier, APA reports quoting Reuters.

In Paris, protesters lit flares and carried banners reading “Withdraw All Decrees”, a call for Macron to drop the measures, which will give companies more power to set working conditions.

The protests challenge the president’s ability to push through reforms that are being closely watched in European capitals -- Berlin in particular. But they are also a test of union strength at a time their influence appears on the decline.

The head of the CGT union spearheading the street protests said public anger was mounting and warned workers the “corporate bosses” would triumph if trade unions failed to pull together.

“When the union movement and workers are divided, it is generally speaking the corporate bosses who win,” CGT chief Philippe Martinez said.

The moderate CFDT union, France’s biggest, and the leftist Force Ouvriere (FO) have expressed disappointment with Macron, who was elected in May pledging reforms to reboot the economy and cut unemployment, but refused to join the CGT protests.

Police said the number of protesters in Paris was a third lower than at a similar rally last week, at about 16,000 protesters, and that turnout in other big cities was down too.

Macron says he will not bow to street pressure.

The centrist government is due to enact the labor reforms on Friday before embarking on other, potentially more explosive changes. Those include a revamping of France’s employment insurance and pension systems.