French Labor Unrest Results in Numerous Arrests

June 24, 2016Franceby EW News Desk Team

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French police arrested around 100 people shortly before Thursday’s labor reform protest march, according to BBC. Many French citizens remain upset over President Francois Hollande’s intention to loosen certain labor laws, such as allowing employers to fire employees when necessary, leeway in lowering wages and increasing the number of hours worked per week.

Hollande got into an office on a promise of instituting socialist policies, but later implemented pro-market measures meant to boost economic growth.

Many voters are unhappy with Hollande’s new plans, but leaders kicked a hornet’s nest by tampering with the France’s coveted 35-hour workweek, and employers could impose a maximum workweek of 46 hours under the new laws.

The 35-work system is a defining attribute of the French labor market, and the new measures are a sharp turn in a nation that has traditionally favored the rights of workers.

The government’s new approach is in reaction to France’s lackluster economy, especially the high unemployment rate, and the president has vowed he would not seek reelection if he fails to contain joblessness in his country.

Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron is the primary driver behind the new reforms. He was primarily responsible for shifting the president’s policy to the right, and Macron has long denounced the 35-hour week and criticized Hollande’s high tax rates on the wealthy. Despite the protests, the government intends to push the pro-market policies through parliament.

Whether the reforms will have a positive impact on the economy remains in question, but the jobless situation is beginning to improve. April saw a 0.6% decline in unemployment, but the drop was only the second in five years, notes France 24.

Further, the recent dip should be met some measure of skepticism, as the decline primarily derived from unemployed citizens who never updated their job status. Additionally, the public is not buying the newfound unemployment dip, and the new reforms will worsen Hollande’s already low popularity. Hollande is the one of the most unpopular presidents in French history.

Center-right governance will give Hollande some credibility among moderate voters, however, which is a crucial voting bloc in the upcoming election. If Hollande’s political career is going to survive, he must also focus on other factors such as boosting exports and invigorating investments.

In addition to boosting the economy, the French must also contribute to the enhancement of the Eurozone, and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi stated that governments like France should increase spending and implement crucial reforms.

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