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France's Macron makes new bid for labour reform

Tuesday, June 06, 2017 - 01:38

As his new party looks on course to win a majority in parliamentary elections starting this weekend, French President Emmanuel Macron's government is due to present trade unions with an outline for negotiating labour reform. As David Pollard reports, it's potentially among the most sensitive measures of his planned proposals.

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Labour unrest in Paris ... sceptics say it's as French as the long lunch. Though the long lunch isn't in fact the main target of new workplace reforms. New president Emmanuel Macron wants a reduction in collective bargaining at sectoral level. Key agreements to be reached at company level instead, according to a document handed to unions on Tuesday. SOUNDBITE (French) FRENCH PRIME MINISTER EDOUARD PHILIPPE, SAYING: "This labour programme must contribute to economic growth, to the fight against unemployment, and must offer real security to all." Unions fear a race to the bottom on pay and conditions. Promising to step up opposition. SOUNDBITE (English) JAMES HUGHES, CHIEF MARKET ANALYST, GKFX, SAYING: "The issue is whenever you try and change anything around labour laws, or anything around retirement ages or pensions or pay, it's incredibly difficult ... Macron is not going to get an easy ride and his honeymoon period as president is over straight away." Though it's yet to begin in parliament. Macron will push through his pro-business reforms by decree before the end of the summer. But, before that, the president's fledgling party's expected to win a convincing majority there in this month's elections. Perhaps, one poll suggests, the biggest since Charles de Gaulle's landslide in 1968. SOUNDBITE (English) JAMES HUGHES, CHIEF MARKET ANALYST, GKFX, SAYING: "He has to get allies, his party is new, his party has never had many representatives. It just doesn't have the wide-reaching effect that the other major parties have." Though one man used to the challenge is Macron. As a former economy minister, last year helping draw up the previous government's labour reforms as it struggled with a 10 per cent unemployment rate. Those led to six months of protest across France.

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France's Macron makes new bid for labour reform

Tuesday, June 06, 2017 - 01:38