France has been threatened again. And this time it is the labor unions and students’ unions who have said that the country would be brought to a halt when it hosts the 2016 UEFA European Championship soccer tournament next month.
In protest against labor reform laws passed by decree by the French government, there have been ongoing protests by students and union workers alike for weeks now in France.
The laws are set to make it easier for employers to hire and fire employees as well as change France’s infamous 35-hour week. These new laws will encourage more long-term employment, hopes French President Francois Hollande’s government.
According to the European statistics service Eurostat, France’s unemployment rate stands at an 18-year high of more than 10.2 percent with almost one-in-four under-25s unemployed. However this high unemployment rate is blamed on the short-term contracts in the private sector that are now the norm in the majority of new French private-sector jobs.
With demonstrators clashing against police in several French cities, protests against the reforms once again turned violent on Thursday. In addition to nuclear power plants, train stations and airports, union workers halted their work at oil refineries across the country.
One of soccer’s most important international tournaments, which opens in the capital on June 10 and lasts for a month is being planned to be disrupted by the union behind Paris’ transport system – SUD-RATP, says the latest French media reports.
The 24 countries participating will be playing 51 games across the country.
In total, over 3 percent of France’s workforce are members labor unions. One of the largest in the country with over 700,000 members is the CGT – the General Confederation of Labor – which is believed to be behind the majority of the protests that are going on in the country at present. Set to shut down airports for three days as air traffic controllers will allegedly be participating, France is bracing for another crippling “day of action” strike next week and this strike is also allegedly organized by the General Confederation of Labor.
While Prime Minister Manuel Valls is rejecting calls to remove a section of the new law, the government has already greatly watered down its proposed changes. If companies manage to adopt in-house salary deals with the consent of employees, the firms would be allowed to opt out of national obligations on labor protection by this potential change.
“The CGT does not rule this country. We will not withdraw the reforms,” French media reported Valls as saying to parliament.
(Adapted from CNBC)