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Controversial labour reform forced through in France

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Controversial labour reform forced through in France


What has happened?

There has been a walk-out in the French parliament as the government invoked special constitutional powers to impose a controversial reform of employment legislation.

What powers did they use?

The French Constitution allows governments to bypass parliament under a clause known as “49.3”.

It was invoked at the first reading of the bill.

Polls suggest public opinion is against the measure being used.

What Manuel Valls said

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls says he decided to bypass parliament after the last cabinet meeting on the 10 May.

Deputies began to walk out as Valls said: “this draft law is about employment, the modernisation of employment relations and creating a secure future for workers.”

“The Constitution of the Fifth Republic allows those who do not agree with this to register their disagreement.”

Is the bill law now, then?

Not yet.

It now goes to the Senate (upper house) for a final reading.

It will then return to the National Assembly (lower house) to become law later this month.

Were there protests?


Labour unions mounted a last-gasp protest as the bill returned to the French National Assembly for a second review on Tuesday.

Police said there were between 6,500 and 7,000 protesters in Paris.

There was a heavy police turnout in the French capital and other major French cities.

What does the new legislation do?

Generally speaking, it makes is easier to hire and fire staff.

Why is the reform needed?

Supporters say to trim a jobless rate in France of 10 percent and give companies more flexibility to set tailor-made salary arrangements and working conditions when hiring staff.

Why is it controversial?

Those against the bill claim it will unravel regulations that have ensured some of Europe’s highest standards of labour protection over the decades.

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