Macron Wins Push for Loose Labor Laws

The upper legislative house approved President Macron's labor reforms, which will be enacted in September. Opposition already promises to stage protests that month. France's General Confederation of Labor are planning strikes across the nation and demonstrations on September 12. Employers and businesses will not be protesting. Pierre Gattaz, the head of the Medef employers federation believes the reforms will make France's market more competitive and attractive to foreign corporations.

One of the three promises Emmanuel Macron made during his campaign was the promise to ease France's near 10 percent unemployment rate by lessening labor restrictions. This move is a risky one for Macron, whose popularity is already dwindling. However he set to work negotiating with union leaders and workers groups shortly after he took office in an effort to avoid the protests and disruptions that plagued France during Francois Hollande's era. During that time, Hollande had put forth less powerful legislation but met with heavier resistance.

Political contexts change and with Britain on the verge of leaving the European Union, Macron is leveraging France's position within the European alliance. His administration is courting businesses looking to find a post-Brexit home. Macron's economic priorities are to fall within EU deficit guidelines. Increased business activity and a favorable environment for employers could result in a rise in employment which will aid in this endeavor. Additionally, the passage of the liberalized labor laws appeases Eurozone pressures.

The reforms will reduce the amount of severance pay courts are able to award workers. Employers will be able to lay-off workers more easily but the workers will receive higher pay-out upon termination. Workers issues will receive attention at the company level with industry-wide concessions taking a low priority. The measures received criticism from France Unbowed and others who believe the reforms take away decades of victories for workers' rights.

One other element of the reforms is in keeping with Macron's overall strategy to limit bureaucratic red tape across all agencies. The new measures will create one touchpoint for all workers' committees in an attempt to simplify communications.

The labor reforms, which passed in the lower house without any major obstacles found a slightly more difficult time passing through the upper house. The end vote was 225 in favor and 109 against.

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