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Nationwide protests are planned across France

France is bracing itself for nationwide protests and some stoppages against a government proposed labour reform bill
Unions across the board are up in arms saying it will undermine workers’ rights. The government says it will incentivise businesses to hire more employees.

The reforms, which would put almost all aspects of the country’s strictly codified labour relations up for negotiation between employers and unions, have been controversial even within the ranks of the ruling Socialist party.

In order to salvage the bill the government is currently negotiating some changes.

The El Khomri law named after Employment Minister Myriam El Khomri is designed to give employees more flexibility in hiring and firing, but critics say it unduly threatens job security.

Unemployment is running at an 18-year high of over 10 percent, a figure which President Francois Hollande is desperate to see fall.

And just to add to the chaos, rail workers for the state owned SNCF operator are holding their own strike in support of pay and conditions.

One commuter said, “It didn’t take longer than usual once we got the train. But the one we wanted to catch, which was up on the board, never came.”

Rail operators have been attempting to keep as many services as possible going, but nothing is guaranteed.

Julien Dehornoy, a SNCF Regional Director, said, “It’s a difficult day for our passengers, we’re working to support them and ensure the day goes as smoothly as possible.”

Students have also joined the main unions in the day of action. This amid government plans to overhaul everything from maximum working hours and rules about days off to the size of redundancy packages.

A number of unions have also called for a day of strikes and demonstrations across France on March 31st. However, not all the unions want the proposals scrapped. Some are demanding that they be kept but in a modified form.
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