French Prime Minister Manuel Valls invokes constitutional article to push through labor reforms

July 5, 2016 7:30 pm

French Prime Minister Manuel
Valls speaks at the National Assembly during a debate on the
government’s planned labor law reforms in Paris, July 5, 2016. (AFP
photo)

French Prime Minister Manuel
Valls has used a constitutional article to bypass the parliament and
push through the contested labor law reforms.

Valls on
Tuesday invoked the so-called 49-3 provision in order to force through
the package of reforms, which the Socialist government says is needed to
tackle rising unemployment.
“This country is too used to mass unemployment,” Valls said while addressing the parliament amid boos and walkouts.
“It
is not posturing, it’s not intransigence,” he said, adding that the
move would be in the “general interest” of the French people.
Valls
said his government has accepted more than 800 amendments to the labor
legislation in a bid to ease public and union concerns about potential
job insecurity that could come with the reforms. He said, however, that a
“coalition of immobility” had stymied the reform drive.
The
French government had once used the 49-3 provision over the labor
reforms as it could not count on the votes of the left flank of the
Socialist Party.
Members of the parliament will have 24 hours to
decide whether to call a vote of no-confidence in the Valls
administration. The right-wing opposition, however, has ruled out such a
move.
Reports suggest the public is also against the final
passage of the reform, as an opinion poll published last week found that
73 percent of the French would be “shocked” if the government resorted
to the constitutional measure.
Over the past few months,
has been witnessing violent demonstrations and industrial actions over
the changes to the labor law.
Unions are also opposed to reforms,
saying the government wants to make it easier and less costly for
employers to lay off workers, calling the reforms an attack on the
rights of workers.
President Francois Hollande stays defiant in
the face of protests, vowing to go ahead with the controversial plans
despite unions’ pressure to ditch the law.
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