Motorists relieved after French truckers reach deal with government

Motorists relieved after French truckers reach deal with government
Photo: AFP
The prospect of further fuel shortages and motorway blockades in France looks to have been avoided after French truck drivers finally thrashed out a deal with the governnment over their working conditions and pay.

Truck drivers in France had already staged several days of protests that had briefly led to fuel shortages at petrol stations around the country – mainly thanks to panic buying by motorists.

The lorry drivers had blocked fuel depots and staged go-slows on motorways to protest against the government’s controversial labour reforms which they claimed would leave them far worse off.

Truckers were furious that the reforms, pushed through by France’s president Emmanuel Macron, would threaten bonuses they are entitled to such as night pay, travel expenses and a thirteenth month salary, that make up a significant portion of their salaries.

Talks between haulage company bosses, the government and unions broke down last week and truckers had threatened to create chaos on the roads.

But on Wednesday night all sides came to an agreement over pay and conditions that should mean threatened action is called off.

However civil servants in France are still calling for a general strike on October 10th to protest Macron’s labour reforms.

The changes to the labour code, which runs to around 3,400 pages in some editions, give small businesses more flexibility to negotiate pay and conditions with their staff, instead of being bound by national agreements.

They also make it easier to lay off employees and cap compensation awards for unfair dismissal while also giving higher payouts to workers made redundant.

President Emmanuel Macron argues the changes – the cornerstone of his programme aimed at boosting entrepreneurship – will help bring down stubbornly high unemployment of 9.6 percent.