French trade unions strike against new labour reforms

Employment and Social Affairs
French trade unions’ strike continues and is getting more and more intense. Among protesters are workers from the public transportation, airline companies and refineries. France is almost paralyzed. Will the European football championships be at risk?

French protest against labour reform continues, and the trade unions up the ante, as this could be a decisive week. Unions are confident they will manage to force the Government to relent. Negotiations with officials were not successful at first, since the Government rejected any bigger influence into new reform package creation.

The reforms introduced by the French Government would lower existing high barriers to laying off staff, allow some employees to work more than the current working week, which is capped at 35 hours and give firms greater powers to cut working hours and reduce pay.

Read “French Vox Populi: A Fight For Working Conditions” for more information on France’s labour reform.

As an answer, the main groups of syndicates within the national labour market have mutually agreed to start a common protest all across France against the new, reformed packages of labour legislation.

On the eve of the kickoff of the European Football Championship, the risk for France of being blocked by protests is becoming more and more real.

France is almost paralyzed: public transportation, airline companies and refineries

From tonight onwards, train drivers of Sncf, the French railways company, announce they will begin a strike that will continue to the bitter end.

Meanwhile, also Paris public transports may be affected in the coming days by another indefinite strike by workers of Ratp, the municipal utility company that manages the City of Light’s bus and Metro services.

The situation is tense even at French airports, since all civil aviation unions called for a strike from Friday to Sunday. Yet, the official confirmation, which is likely to arrive after a last meeting between unions, has yet to come.

Also refineries are blocked all over France, which were forced recently to have recourse to its strategic stocks. The French Government has even decided to send the police to reopen fuel plants.

Nevertheless, despite the determination shown by protesters and the inconvenience caused by the ongoing protests, President François Hollande has recently reiterated that the law proposal will not be withdrawn.

The upcoming European Football Championships may change the situation

But if the protests continue, so to jeopardise the normal conduct of EURO 2016,  the government may be having second thoughts.

Indeed, the upcoming European Football Championships, which will begin on 10 June, is a real cause of concern for the French Government, who intends to avoid the risk of a paralysis in those days. Therefore, trade unions are likely to get some gains by taking advantage of this situation.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Manuel Valls reportedly conversed over the phone with Cgt leader, Philipphe Martinez. Although the content of the conversation have not been disclosed, this could be a sign of good will by the French Executive.

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