Emmanuel Macron French govt sets timetable for labour law

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Tuesday set down the timetable for the programme to change France's labour laws, one of President Emmanuel Macron's key election pledges.

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French President Emmanuel Macron insists he will fully consult with unions before pushing a labor reform executive order play

French President Emmanuel Macron insists he will fully consult with unions before pushing a labor reform executive order

(POOL/AFP/File)
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French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Tuesday set down the timetable for the programme to change France's labour laws, one of President Emmanuel Macron's key election pledges.

Philippe was put in charge of a caretaker government after Macron took office on May 14, ahead of legislative elections on June 11 and 18.

Speaking on France 2 television, Philippe said the post-election parliament would be presented in July with a bill empowering the government to approve labour reform by executive order.

The proposed clauses in the reform will be published "by the end of the summer," he said, promising that the text "will include the fruit of our discussions" with unions and employers.

Macron, a centrist former banker, says France's economy is being hamstrung by red tape and complex labour laws.

On the campaign trail, he pledged to overhaul regulations and reduce the weight of the French state to free up business activity.

Under his plan, bosses would be allowed to negotiate working conditions directly with their employees rather than being required to honour industry-wide agreements.

There would also be a ceiling for compensation determined by labour tribunals for unfair dismissal.

Reforming France's labour code, though, is traditionally a political minefield and previous presidents have often backtracked.

Efforts at labour reforms under former Socialist president Francois Hollande led to massive street protests last year, many of which turned violent, resulting in the watering down of several measures.

Hollande was obliged to ram the bill through by parliament by threatening a vote of confidence.

By doing so, he incensed trade unions and leftwingers within his own Socialist Party who accused him of betraying democratic debate.

Macron has insisted he will fully consult with unions and bosses before pushing through by executive order, but has set a deadline of September for achieving his goal.

The government has already had several rounds of talks and on Tuesday, Philippe said, "I told the union representatives that we will leave time for intense and complete discussion."

However, he also stressed that Macron had a "cast-iron determination" to push ahead with change.

Macron was Hollande's economy minister for two years before quitting the government last year to launch his presidential bid as an independent centrist.

Philippe is from the rightwing Republicans party, while Labour Minister Muriel Penicaud is the former head of Business France, the agency in charge of promoting France abroad.

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