France labour reforms

French government agrees to meet student union leaders

French government agrees to meet student union leaders
Photo: AFP
The French PM Manuel Valls has agreed to meet with student union leaders in a bid to quell growing anger over the government's planned labour reforms.

The French government will meet student and high school unions in a bid to respond to fierce opposition to proposed labour law reforms, Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said Thursday.

Young people were ar the forefront of the demonstrations against the draft law that were held across France on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls “will meet the youth organizations very soon, to continue the dialogue with them”, Vallaud-Belkacem told France 2 TV.

The reform, aimed at boosting hiring, would remove some of the obstacles to laying off workers, but opponents fear it will erode the cast-iron job security that French workers on full-time contracts enjoy.

Vallaud-Belkacem said the demonstrations that unions claimed brought up to half a million people onto the streets – the police said it was half that number – boasted “a serious turnout”.

Myriam El Khomri, the labour minister who drew up the contested reforms, also said “the criticisms must be heard”.

The main student union, Unef, has called for a follow-up demonstration on March 17th.

The reforms have divided the Socialist government, pitting President Francois Hollande and Valls against a range of left-wing forces 14 months before the president faces a re-election bid.

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