Hollande's govt in crisis over labour Bill

PARIS • France's Socialist government is to face a no-confidence vote today after it bypassed Parliament and rammed through a labour reform Bill that has sparked two months of street protests.

The team of embattled President Francois Hollande resorted to the controversial manoeuvre on Tuesday in the face of fierce opposition from within his own party that doomed the Bill in Parliament.

The reform, which makes it easier for employers to hire and fire workers, is likely the last major piece of legislation for Mr Hollande, the least popular leader in modern French history, who faces a re-election bid next year.

The tactic to legislate by decree has been used only once before under Mr Hollande - to force through a controversial economic reform governing trading hours and to deregulate some sectors.

Outside Parliament, hundreds of people had gathered to protest against the move, chanting "True democracy is here" and calling for Mr Hollande's resignation.

Pressure from the public and Parliament's back benches caused the government to moderate the proposals, which only upset bosses while failing to assuage critics.

Bosses were notably unhappy with the withdrawal of a cap on the amount companies must pay for unfair dismissal, as well as the scrapping of a measure that would have allowed small and medium- sized companies to unilaterally introduce flexible working hours.

Two right-wing opposition parties filed a no-confidence motion to be debated in the 575-seat Parliament today, and between them they have 226 of the 288 votes needed to topple the government.

The government says the labour reform will help cut stubbornly high unemployment of around 10 per cent - a pledge on which Mr Hollande has staked his presidency.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 12, 2016, with the headline 'Hollande's govt in crisis over labour Bill'. Print Edition | Subscribe