Emmanuel Macron Signs Fresh Labor Law Reforms Despite Union Protest

President E. Macron

France President Emmanuel Macron has signed into law a number of decrees aimed at reforming the country's labor laws despite the opposition by unions through street protests. The newly signed five decrees are aimed at making it easier for firms in France to hire and fire employees, reduce the national collective bargaining power and simplify the negotiations between employees and employers. The president hopes that these reforms will stimulate the country's economy and lower the current unemployment rates, which were at 9.5% in April compared to 4.5% and 3.9% in UK and Germany respectively. Macron blamed the rigid labor codes in the country for the huge stagnation.


However, the move by the president promoted a huge outcry from political opponents and unions. There a number of street protests that have been organized across the country against the reforms. Parties opposed to the new reforms argue that they will lead to the weakening of hard-won protections for the workers. Macron had attempted to bring about economic reforms in France when he was the economy minister under the presidency of Francois Hollande. Protesters, who are mostly young people, crippled the city of Paris. However, these reforms christened "Macron's Law" had been passed back in 2015 under the controversial Article 40 of the French constitution. The controversial article means that the president and his cabinet can pass a law by bypassing the parliament.

Macron's Defiance

President Macron remained defiant over the reforms and informed CNN that he would go on and ignore the ongoing street protests. He affirmed that he believes in democracy but it is not found on the streets. The said decrees were signed by the president on live television at a ceremony in Elysees Palace. The president hailed the reforms as unprecedented in the postwar fifth republic. Macron added that the first changes under the reforms would take effect as from next week.

Overview of the Reforms

A lot of workers in France and especially the young are forced to hold onto a succession of numerous fixed term contracts. This is due to most employers' reluctance to hire them permanently as it is hard to fire them. The French labor code is touted to be longer than the Bible and it presents a huge challenge to employers when they want to hire or fire employees. The reforms are aimed at making it easier for employers to hire or fire their employees easily. However, a number of critics feel that these reforms will expose French workers to poor treatment at work. (Read More)

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