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  • Protesters attend a demonstration against the government

    Protesters attend a demonstration against the government's labor reforms in Nantes, France, Sept. 21, 2017. | Photo: Reuters

Published 21 September 2017

More rallies are expected to take place Saturday with the hope of pushing the president to stop neoliberal reforms.

In a last stand for workers rights, union workers are walking the streets of Paris in protest against French President Emmanuel Macron's implementation of new labor reforms.

French Workers Protest Neoliberal Labor Reforms

Critics accuse the reforms of facilitating the elimination of workplace protections, lowering wages and weakening unions.

"What's important today and in the days and weeks ahead is that the movement gets bigger," said General Confederation of Labor, CGT, Secretary General Philippe Martinez, who declared that the first round of protests were a “good start."

There are more rallies expected to take place Saturday with the hope of pushing the president to stop the neoliberal reforms, which also facilitates the process of firing workers.

However, Macron stated Wednesday that the government will not compromise the reforms which were agreed upon after three months of steady negotiations with union leaders.

“Democracy does not happen in the streets,” he said.

The marches and strikes come a week after about 200,000 people demonstrated against the measures in the first major challenge to Macron since he was elected in May.

"When the unions, when the workers are divided, that is generally when the company owners win," Martinez said as protesters continued to rally behind him.

In August, French lawmakers adopted a bill allowing the government to fast-track changes to the labor code. While it gives employers more power to negotiate workers' conditions at a company level, rather than being bound by industry-wide agreements, employees can be dismissed more easily, without companies fearing prosecution at labor courts.

 France: Workers Protest Macron's Labor Reforms

Public opinion is divided, according to a recent BVA poll, with most saying they think the reforms will boost France's competitiveness but will fail to improve employees’ working conditions.

According to the president, these reforms are meant to encourage hiring as well as lower the high level of employment, which remains at 9.5 percent.

Jean-Luc Melenchon, director of the political party France Unbowed, has condoned the changes to the labor laws, calling it no more than a “social coup d’etat."

With nearly 3.5 million people out of work, former investment banker Macron claims the bill will give employers more incentives to hire workers if they can fire them without financial risk.

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