French students and trade unions protest proposed labor reforms

Global Business

France’s government is pushing ahead with a controversial labor reform bill despite fierce opposition from unions and divisions within the ruling Socialist party.

CCTV’s Kate Parkinson reports.

There were smiles as government ministers met with union leaders this week.

French students and trade unions protest proposed labor reforms

France's government is pushing ahead with a controversial labor reform bill despite fierce opposition from unions and divisions within the ruling Socialist party. CCTV's Kate Parkinson reports.

But the government is facing an uphill battle over its proposed labor reforms.

Ministers say by giving employers more flexibility in hiring and firing and loosening rules on working times they will make France more competitive and bring down unemployment rates.

Labor unions strongly disagree. Protests are planned for this week, and later this month.

Ten percent of people in France are out of work. Youth unemployment is 25 percent.

But polls show seven out of 10 people are opposed to the reforms.

An online petition against the reform bill has more than a million signatures. And the government is also facing a backlash from within its own party.

One Socialist member of parliament posted on Twitter that France’s labor minster will face an epic parliamentary battle over this law.

The Socialist Party accuses the government of President Francois Hollande of betraying left-wing values.

In a newspaper editorial, leading party figures listed one-by-one government policies that have left Socialists seething.

These proposals to overhaul the labor markets, they said, is the final straw.

Taking on France’s protective labor laws and the county’s famous 35-hour week could be the undoing of Francois Hollande. His approval rating is already a dismal 17 percent and with growing discontent in his own party, possible rival socialist candidates for next year’s presidential elections are starting to emerge.