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Macron faces test over labor overhaul

China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-13 07:41

PARIS - French unions launched a day of strikes and protests on Tuesday against Emmanuel Macron's flagship labor reforms, a key test as he stakes his presidency on overhauling the sluggish economy.

More than 180 street protests are planned nationwide against the reforms, which are intended to tackle stubbornly high unemployment by loosening the rules that govern how businesses hire and fire people.

About 4,000 strikes have been called under the action led by France's biggest trade union, the CGT, with rail workers, students and civil servants urged to protest in cities from Paris to Marseille and Toulouse.

But the turnout will serve as a yardstick for unions' ability to mobilize, as deep splits have emerged in the labor movement between those determined to fight the reforms and those prepared to compromise.

The business-friendly Macron sparked a backlash last week by describing opponents of the shake-up as "slackers" and cynics, in comments blasted as "scandalous" by CGT chief Philippe Martinez.

Bruno Cautres of the Cevipof political research institute said Macron had "thrown oil on the fire" with his choice of words.

The 39-year-old president, who swept to power in May on promises to reinvigorate the economy and transcend leftright politics, used executive orders to fast-track his reforms.

They must be ratified by parliament in the coming months, but are expected to breeze through given the large majority won in June by Macron's Republic on the Move party.

"This is not a labor law, it is a law that gives full powers to employers," Martinez said.

Afp - Ap

(China Daily 09/13/2017 page11)

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