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French president signs 5 decrees to overhaul labor code

French President Emmanuel Macron has signed an executive order making changes in the country’s labor law despite opposition from workers and labor unions.

Macron signed five presidential decrees on Friday, allowing employers to easily negotiate pay, hire and fire their staff, with the aim of boosting economic growth.

The labor overhaul is the central pillar in Macron’s promises to create jobs and boost economy.

The president, who has been in office for four months, believes that the labor reforms, along with an overhaul of unemployment benefits and a training plan for jobless people to be set up next year, will boost economy and bring the unemployment rate down from the current long-standing 9.5 percent.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Thursday backed Macron’s plans, saying labor reforms, joined by tax cuts and a cut in public spending, would increase economic growth in France.

Businesses support Macron’s “unprecedented wave of changes” to France’s social model. They say France’s strict labor code has weakened economic progress and impeded investment and job growth in France.

Demonstrators hold a banner depicting French President Emmanuel Macron, which reads, “Let’s erase that smile.” (Photo by AFP)

Meanwhile, nationwide rallies were held against Macron’s labor reforms on Thursday with police firing tear gas in some cities.

The protests, backed by the powerful, hard-left CGT trade union, saw protesters take to the streets in the second round of public opposition to the long-touted changes in the much revered labor code, which has protected the rights of employees in France.

Macron’s critics see the changes to the labor code as a “social coup d’etat.”

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