France vows to reform 'unreadable' labour laws

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France vows to reform 'unreadable' labour laws
Will a reform of France's labour laws provoke protests? Photo: AFP

France will move to reform its notoriusly complex system of labour laws, the country's PM said on Wednesday, but not until 2016. There may be trouble ahead.


Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Wednesday that lawmakers would vote next year on reforms to simplify France's "overly
complex" labour laws.

Speaking after the release of a report on possible reforms to the laws governing the labour market in the eurozone's second-biggest economy, Valls said the current code was "at times unreadable".

The prime minister said however the proposed reforms would not affect the legal basis of France's 35-hour working week, which is regularly criticised by the centre-right opposition but cherished by the governing Socialists.

The reforms would give "more flexibility, but not less protection" to workers, Valls said.

He was speaking after the release of a report on possible reforms to the laws governing the labour market.

The move may not go down well with France's powerful labour unions, who have a history of calling strikes when any mention of labour reform is being discussed.

Some have predicted there may be some strife ahead.

Many analysts and economists have long believed France was in desperate need of reforming its labour laws in order to free up the jobs market.

But consecutive governments have been tentative to say the least.

In April this year, the economic think-tankOECD published a report in which it urged France to"simplify" life, and specificially pointed to the 3,000 page Code de Travail.

The OECD, who presented their report to France’s Finance Minister Michel Sapin, said the government really needs make reform of the labour market its top priority.

It criticised the “strong protection” afforded to those workers on long open-ended contracts which is “hindering mobility” and the country’s notorious 3,000- page long labour code which it says "restricts flexibility in both the private and public sectors".



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