July 17, 2018 / 11:22 AM / 5 months ago

Macron starts 'new phase' with unions after fast-and-furious first year

French President Emmanuel Macron faces union representatives during a meeting at the presidential Elysee palace in Paris, France, Tuesday, July 17, 2018. Jean-Francois Badias/Pool via Reuters

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron told unions and bosses on Tuesday his second year in power would be a “new phase” in his presidency during which he would consult them more after largely ignoring them in his first year, an employers group said.

“The president said: ‘In the first year of my presidency, I had to unblock certain situations, I went fast, that was my decision and I don’t apologise for it’,” Francois Asselin, the head of the CPME small companies group told reporters after meeting Macron at the Elysee palace.

“‘Now I’m entering a new phase where I’ll have to rely more on social partners’,” Macron added, according to Asselin.

Macron passed a whirlwind of reforms in his first 12 months, including a major labour code reform which was rammed through parliament via special government decrees, prompting complaints from trade unions.

More economic and social reforms are on his pro-business government’s agenda, including changes to unemployment insurance aimed at encouraging workers to take on new jobs, as well as a pension reform.

Macron, who was elected on a promise to be ‘neither of the left, nor of the right’, has been under pressure to pay more attention to demands from left-wing voters, after moves such as scrapping a wealth tax earned him the tag “president of the rich”, hurting his popularity ratings.

Reporting by Jean-Baptiste Vey; writing by Michel Rose; editing by Leigh Thomas

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