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Saturday 18 November 2017

Macron signs decrees to implement controversial labour reforms in France

Emmanuel Macron signs documents at the Elysee Palace in Paris (AP)
Emmanuel Macron signs documents at the Elysee Palace in Paris (AP)

French President Emmanuel Macron has signed five decrees paving the way to the implementation of labour reforms aimed at boosting growth.

The move came as unions and political opponents stage a series of street protests, fearing the reforms will weaken hard-won worker protections.

The labour overhaul is the central pillar in Mr Macron's promises to create jobs.

The measures aim to make it easier for firms to hire and fire, simplify negotiations between employers and employees, and reduce the power of national collective bargaining.

He said the first measures will start being applied next week.

He lauded the "unprecedented wave of changes" to France's social model, along with a reform of unemployment benefits and a training plan for jobless people to be set up next year.

Labour minister Muriel Penicaud said: "This is a key moment because beyond a change in the law, it's a mental shift in social relationships, in labour rules and in the job market that we think is necessary and possible."

Opponents have denounced the government's decision to use a special procedure allowing it to make decrees, instead of a lengthy debate to pass the bill in parliament.

Left-wing legislator Jean-Luc Melenchon criticised Mr Macron as "authoritarian" and called for a big protest in Paris on Saturday.

"I think these measures can be withdrawn", he said.

On Thursday, a nationwide protest, backed by the CGT trade union, gathered 132,000 people across France, much fewer than last week's protests, according to the Interior ministry.

Among the most contested reforms, one will cap the financial penalties awarded by labour courts in the event of dismissals recognised as wrongful. Another eases regulations governing when and why companies can dismiss workers.

AP

Press Association

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