Hundreds of thousands of workers and young people in France have taken to the streets to protest a government reform to alter the 35-hour workweek make it easier to hire and fire workers.
According to official figures about 390,000 people took part in the protests. Unions however estimate the figure to 1.2 million. Workers from many different sectors have also taken part in a nationwide strike against the reform that many believe will reduce job security and workers’ protection.
The government argues that the reform will help the economy and create more jobs by making it easier for companies to both hire and lay off workers. But protesters points to that the reform will only create low paid jobs without basic security. Further, a new administrative process has already made it easier for companies to lay off their workers. That the reform is initiated by a socialist government elected with the mandate to protect the rights of workers adds up to the disappointment.
Analysts have also pointed to that the protests may be part of a general disappointment of the situation in the country in general with high unemployment particularly among young people (the unemployment rate in France is at about 10 per cent and reaches to 29,5 per cent among those aged 15 to 24.)