Emmanuel Macron, President of France, faced a test of his reform agenda on Thursday. Strikes were held across the transport and public sectors.
Angered at the newly planned labor overhauls, teachers, train conductors, and air-traffic controllers walked out on strike. Because of this, there was an extensive disruption for locals and visitors to the region alike. For the high-speed TGV trains, a mere 40% were up and running. As for the flights from Paris was able to call off 30% of them.
France Strikes Again, this time on Macron’s Labor Laws
Government employees are also expected to go on strike to protest a series of reforms. These include cuts to public-sector headcounts in the next four years.
There has been a three-month surge of industrial action by rail workers. These workers plan to strike two to every five days between April and June. Across the country, more than 100 marches are in planning. The plans to scrap jobs-for-life and considerate retirement plans enrages French unions.
Even though the strikes on Thursday created many inconveniences to travelers, Macron promised to reform France’s infamous rigid labor laws.
Last year, Macron stated his reform package would work towards giving companies more flexibility to the transfer of employees. He also said it would grant more negotiation power for working conditions with employees and a smaller amount of risk financially should there ever be wrongful dismissal.
In an attempt to justify their plans, Macron’s government says this is what the people voted for back in May.
France has attempted to work through reforms for many years. One notable example was in 1995 when then-Prime Minister Alain Juppe proposed a change in the structure of their state railroad system, SNCF. He was, however, made to withdraw after the unions sent thousands to protest in the streets, a process that paralyzed the nation.
Both business leaders and economists in France have been welcoming to reform plans. The economic direction for France this year has been a positive one. Experts say that while Macron’s major challenge is the strikes, he is in a strong position and unlikely to back down.