Macron Reforms Labor to Stimulate Economy
Emmanuel Macron signed five decrees despite crowds of protesters decrying the move. The orders encompass a range of labor reforms and are causing controversy for the manner in which they bypass union involvement and parliamentary review. Because of these maneuvers the orders can be enforced in under a week.
The decrees are aimed at lowering France's unemployment by making it easier for businesses to hire and fire employees. Negotiations between employers and employees are less complex, and collective bargaining will no longer be as powerful or influential. Workers and others opposed to the decrees believe this will result in poor and unfair working conditions. Those in support believe that a simplification of the labor code will relieve unemployment among younger people. Results from polling indicate that the nation is split in their opinion on the matter.
Indeed, when similar laws were set to go forward in 2015, what was then dubbed "Macron's Law," saw protests that jammed the streets of Paris. The protests seen at the time of the highly staged and televised signing ceremony, were not as strong as those in 2015. Macron's response to the protests was firm. He stated that he believed in democracy but that democracy does not play out in the streets.
Part of the reason for less enthusiastic protests could be the country's unemployment rate which stood at 9.5 percent in April, a stark contrast against other EU countries' unemployment numbers. Germany has a rate of 3.9 percent and the UK has a 4.5 percent unemployment rate. Macron intends to bring the number down. Another motive behind the reform is the French deficit and the impact new businesses will have on the French economy should they choose to leave the UK and find a home in France. By reforming France's infamously long and complex labor laws, France might seem to be a better place for Brexit-fleeing companies to set up shop.
By strengthening the role of employers and reducing the powers of unions, Macron is not helping his approval ratings. An expert on French labor economics told The Independent that, "It would have been better [for Macron] to strengthen unions and their legitimacy than to want to circumvent them."
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