Labour Research June 2016

European news

French workers oppose changes

The French government seems determined to push through major changes in employment law despite widespread opposition. It is using an exceptional (but constitutional) procedure, allowing the law to be passed without a majority in parliament.

A number of socialist members of parliament had indicated that they would vote against the proposals, particularly those which give company agreements precedence over those signed at industry level. However, before the vote could take place on 10 May, the session was suspended to allow the exceptional procedure to be used.

The changes planned by the government affect a range of issues, including dismissals and working time as well as collective bargaining. They have provoked widespread opposition, shown in in five separate major demonstrations between March and April. 

However, the trade union response has not been uniform. While two of France’s five main union confederations, CGT and FO, have called their members on to the streets to protest, three others CFDT, CFTC and CFE-CGC, have sought to achieve changes through talks with the government. 

There have certainly been changes from the initial government text. But, for the present at least, many of the key points remain.