French PM forces through contested labour laws

2016-07-05 18:04
Demonstrators shout slogans as they pass police. (Francois Mori, AP)

Demonstrators shout slogans as they pass police. (Francois Mori, AP)

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Paris - Socialist French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Tuesday invoked a constitutional measure to force through contested labour laws, bypassing parliament.

"This country is too used to mass unemployment," Valls told parliament as many members booed and several walked out of the chamber.

Valls, 53, said he was acting in the "general interest" of the French people. "It is not posturing, it's not intransigence," he said.

He said more than 800 amendments had been added to the legislation after "a quality debate", but that a "coalition of immobility" had stymied the reform drive aimed at reducing unemployment.

Union- and student-backed demonstrations against the reforms - seen as too pro-business and threatening to cherished workers' rights - began nearly four months ago, with some protests descending into violence.

MPs have 24 hours to decide whether to call a vote of no confidence in Valls' government, which the right-wing opposition has already ruled out.

It is the second time the government has used the so-called 49-3 provision for this package of reforms because it could not count on the votes of the left flank of the Socialist Party in parliament.

An opinion poll published last week found that 73% of the French would be "shocked" if the government used the 49-3 provision for the final passage of the reforms.

Unemployment in France stands at a stubborn 10% overall, but for young people the figure is closer to 25%. More than 3.5 million people in mainland France are registered as jobless.

Read more on:    france

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