• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

And yet another Hollande reform goes up in smoke

Joshua Melvin · 28 Mar 2014, 12:17

Published: 28 Mar 2014 12:17 GMT+01:00

France’s Constitutional Council ruled on Thursday that a reform that would have allowed the government to fine companies that shut down profitable factories was unconstitutional.

The reform was deemed by the council - France's highest constitutional authority - to be a violation of “a freedom of undertaking and private property rights.”

The plan to fine companies which close factories without having explored alternatives was part of a landmark Hollande reform aimed at appeasing industry workers, thousands of whom have lost jobs in recent years.

But the decision to strike down the key clause in a law promised by candidate Hollande in 2012, serves as yet another embarrassing blow for the president and means he holds an unenviable record.

The council's ruling is the 13th law to be invalidated since he took office, putting him ahead of former presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and François Mitterand, who both had 12 during their first two years as president, Europe 1 radio reported. Perhaps the biggest and most embarrassing setback for Hollande was when the Constitutional Council threw out his flagship 75 percent tax law, which was subsequently resuscitated in a different form

The latest to bite the dust was the so-called "Florange law", named after a steelworks in northern France where candidate Hollande told workers facing layoffs that he would pass legislation to protect their rights in case of a shutdown.

The law, which was only approved at the end of February, came too late to stop steel giant Arcelor Mittal from shutting two blast furnaces in Florange in northern France last year.

Another clause of the law, which did make it past the council, makes it compulsory for any company that employs more than 1,000 workers to look for a buyer for a site they want to close in three months' time. However the planned penalty for failing to do so, a fine the equivalent of 20 times the minimum wage for each worker affected, didn’t survive the constitutional review.

Under the law approved by the ruling Socialists along with their Green coalition partners, workers can also make an acquisition offer. The centre-right UMP party of former president Nicolas Sarkozy, which is seen as more pro-business, voted against the bill.

The decision on the law comes as Hollande's popularity rate, which stands in the teens, is the lowest of any modern French president and his Socialist party is expected to lose many local seats in Sunday's local elections. 

Elections 2014: Five key key questions for the run-off

Joshua Melvin (joshua.melvin@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
'War crimes committed in Aleppo': French UN envoy
A tractor clears rubble after a government strike on rebel areas of Aleppo. Photo: Thaer Mohammed/ AFP

France's envoy to the United Nations has called for an urgent Security Council meet on the war crimes he asserts are being committed in Aleppo.

'Curse of Phantom' strikes as Paris theatre burns
Anthony Crivello and Elizabeth Loyacano in the New York production of Phantom of the Opera. Photo: Really Useful Group

The curse of Phantom of the Opera has struck with a fire at a Paris theatre threatening the musical's French debut.

Two teenage girls held in France over 'terror plot'
The girls came from the same part of Nice, near Route de Turin, as Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who carried out the nice attacks. Photo: Jesmar/Wikimedia Commons

Two teenage girls from Nice are being held on suspicion of planning a jihadi attack.

Focus
French fighter jet deal: India 'a school of patience'
Rafale jets at an assembly hanger in Merignac, southwestern France. Photo: Jean-Pierre Muller/AFP

The less-than-supersonic sale of French Rafale fighter jets to India has highlighted the obstacles facing foreign arms firms seeking to do business with the world's biggest weapons importer.

Hollande vows to 'completely dismantle' Calais Jungle
French President Francois Hollande visiting a refugee centre in Tours. Photo: Guillaume Souvant/AFP

President Francois Hollande has bowed to right-wing pressure and stepped up pledge to combat illegal migration.

First driverless minibus goes on trial in Paris
Gilbert Gagnaire, Director General of Easy Mile, poses in front of his driverless EZ10 minibus. Photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP

The French capital's transport authority will carry out its first test of a driverless minibus on Saturday.

Feature
Room for improvement: Paris's matchbox apartments
Receptionist Ivan Lopez in his tiny "chambre de bonne". Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP

Thousands of Parisians round off a hard day's work with a trudge up six flights of stairs to a tiny, stuffy room they resignedly call home.

Former president Chirac still in hospital but wife home
Bernadette Chirac executes a deal at the French Stock Exchange on September 12. Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP

Former French president Jacques Chirac remains in hospital in Paris but his wife Bernadette has now been discharged.

Pope holds multi-faith meeting with Nice victims
Pope Francis kisses a baby on arrival at his weekly audience in St Peter's Square. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/ AFP

Pope Francis will on Saturday hold a multi-faith meeting of grieving relatives and survivors of an attack in France in July when a jihadist ploughed his truck into a crowd in Nice.

Cameron school pal appointed UK ambassador to France
Ed Llewellyn has spent time in the European Commission. Photo: Gov.uk

Ed Llewellyn attended the Eton College at the same time as former PM David Cameron, and then served as his chief of staff throughout his eleven years as Conservative leader.

Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
National
France's Marion Cotillard rebuffs rumours of fling with Brad Pitt
National
Eight arrested over links to Nice truck attacker
Features
Why everyone should party in a French chateau at least once
Travel
The Frenchman who hated 'Nazi-Zealand' after four-day hitch-hike fail
Culture
What's on: Ten exciting events across France in September
The 45-million year old underground shells that flavour Champagne
Features
French job speak: All the terms you need to know
'Resilient' Paris now a more appealing city than New York
National
France says it's OK to warn drivers about speed cameras
Meet Honorine, 113, the oldest person in France
Education
Grenoble named France's best city to be a student
Society
New Metro map reveals cheapest pints of beer in Paris
Business & Money
How reliant is the French economy on Paris?
Society
Here's why Parisians want to move to Bordeaux
And the 'best place to spend a weekend in Europe' is… Lyon
Analysis & Opinion
'Muslims in France must be considered ordinary citizens'
Armed guards to ride French trains from October
National
France among Europe's priciest for train travel
National
Paris set to make river bank car-free for six-month trial
Society
Bordeaux hospital ranked as best in France
National
France rolls out 'world's first' driverless buses
Society
15 things a Frenchwoman can do to feel more British
Culture
Every fact you need to know about France's 'départements'
2,727
jobs available