France in turmoil
France is in turmoil in wake of the President Emmanuel Macron’s initiation of economic reforms of France’s inflexible labour laws.
Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to streets against Macron’s proposed reforms on Thursday March 22 2018.
The subsequent strikes by the Railways and public sector have literally paralyzed the country.
The flights to and from Paris were cancelled to the tune of roughly 30% .Adding to the woes of commuters , only 40% high speed TVG trains ran all across the country .
The schools ,day cares libraries and all almost all public services came to halt.
The police fired the water canons and tear gas shells to quell the storming crowd.
The sporadic clashes between the security forces and the protesters , mainly students led to some stray incidents of vehicle burning and smashing of office windows.
But the security forces managed to keep the protesters at bay and thus provided adequate safety to the commuters in general reports France 24.
The real dilemma before government is how many people would join the strike.
March 22 2018 was chosen to coincide with March 22 1968, that led to crippling strike that paralyzed the country for months together that year.
Fierce battles had taken that year crippling the economy that time.
Thursday March 22 2018 strikes are possibly the start of the long time battle against Macron ,especially following the announcement of Railways Union that the railways would stop running trains twice weekly beginning April 2018.
The strong nerve wrecking Unions have in the past forced the governments to yield to policy U-Turns .
But Macron and his ministers have vowed not to bend to the attrocious demands of unions whatsoever .
A round-up of France’s controversial labour law reform
sources France 24
The President Emmenuel Micron and the Minister of Labour Muriel Pénicaud announced reforms to France’s inflexible labour laws on Thursday to give boost to the sagging economic growth in terms of providing more jobs to the unemployed youths and reinvigorate the SMEs .
The main thrust of the reforms is to give more powers to the employers to dilute the Europe’s most strongest worker protection laws.
The government by enlisting such reforms is hoping that giving employers more freedom to manoeuvre will help revive the torpid economy.
Macron is confident of streamlining of “red book’ containing all laws governing the worker safety to bonuses and thus giving companies ,unions and employees more freedom to negiotiate better terms . Also it could streamline hiring and firing workers thus enabling the employers with more leverage to reach amicable solutions.
The reforms if implemented would reduce the unemployment rate from its present 9.5 percent to the level of Germany and Britain –roughly 4.5 percent.
Macron with his parliamentary majority and the divided opposition, he was able to convince legislators to make the changes by decree.
Having good support from the businesses and unions Macron hopes to get the reforms ratified by Parliament after holding cabinet meeting on 22nd September 2018.
The new 36 measures would benefit SMEs small medium sized enterprises employing not more than 250 employees , and VMEs very small enterprises, employing not more than 50 people.
“For the first time, labour law reforms give priority to SMEs and VSEs,” Pénicaud the labour Minister said while presenting the proposals.
Severance payments, will increase to 25 percent of monthly salary for each year of employment from the 20 percent currently mandated.
Employer lobbying groups welcomed the measures calling them as important business strengthening ones .
The unions on the other hand are sceptical about the changes as usual,however the France’s largest union , the moderate French Democratic Confedration of Labour (C F D T), said would not join the protests but would whet the changes in true perspective.
The President Macron has to be very confident in passing the reforms for the ultimate good of the people and the country in the larger interests.
The political opponents ,the French Communist Party and the National Front should be convinced about the advantages of the reforms in the larger interest .The ability to put them on the same keel will be a great test for Macron’s political statesmanship .
Nigerians heaved a sigh of relief after Boko Haram released 101 of 110 girls they had kidnapped last month from Dapchi.
The New York Times reported that some could be dead. The media reports claimed that five captives were allegedly crushed to death in the overcrowded trucks.
The Government is reported to have paid huge ransoms to secure the release of the kidnapped girls .