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    Demonstrators take cover after clashing with police during a protest march against President Emmanuel Macron's new pro-business labor policies in Paris, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017

    French Labor Reform Protests May Escalate, Turn Into Acute Issue for Macron

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    The ongoing protests of the French citizens against the reform of the country's labor code may escalate in the future and become a "monstrous problem" for French President Emmanuel Macron, experts told Sputnik.

    PARIS (Sputnik) — On Friday, Macron signed five decrees on labor reform aimed at introducing fundamental changes to the country's labor market.

    The reform of the labor code has already triggered large-scale protests across the country as French trade unions consider that it will deprive workers of their rights, because it will be easier for enterprises to fire their employees under the new labor code.

    About 400,000 people took to streets in France in a strike called by several labor unions against the reform of the labor market on September 12. A range of manifestations is planned for the next week, including a potentially long-lasting strike of the road workers, who promise to block the refineries, which can result in massive fuel shortages across France similar to those in 2016 during the tenure of former President Francois Hollande.

    According to Daniel Boy, a senior researcher at the Sciences Po, the rallies pose a certain threat to France and could become a monstrous problem for Macron, but the protests are not the same as the rallies that hit the country during Hollande's rule.

    "I tend to say that with the manifestations you can never know… there is a possibility that the things will start boiling, Macron’s popularity dropped very fast, so we don’t know yet where these manifestation will lead to. They can accelerate very fast. But it’s not the manifestations themselves that are a problem. It’s the blocking of the country. And this is much more difficult to resolve. Politically it’s much more annoying to have the road workers blocking the refineries, or go on a strike, that can become a monstrous problem," Boy told Sputnik.

    At the same time, he added that in contrast to Hollande, Macron had certain discussions of the labor reform with the representatives of trade unions and several of them had supported Paris.

    "We have to always be cautious of manifestations. Macron already started saying that it was not the street that had a say, what we always hear from those in power. There are two major differences between the reforms of Macron and Hollande. Macron announced them before he was elected, and when Hollande started reforming the labor code nothing in his program indicated that. Also there were serious consultations taking place with the labor unions. It doesn’t mean that they agree to everything, CGT does not agree. But other labor unions like CFDT, FO etc let it pass," the researcher said.

    The scholar from the French university added that during Hollande's tenure the protests against the labor reforms started before the discussion of the bill by the parliament, but the recent protests took place after the law had already been discussed.

    Alain Policar, professor at the University of Limoges, also told Sputnik that the outcome of manifestations is hard to predict, however Macron had made a number of mistakes on his own.

    "Political elite should always beware of manifestations. You can never know how far it can reach. One minor event can make things explode. The French are very attentive to any changes in the labor code," Policar, who is also a researcher at the Cevipof research center, said.

    He added that there could be manifestations able to paralyze the country and it could create troubles for Macron.

    "We can have manifestations that can really paralyze the country. Politically they can seem less important, but they are much more troubling for those in power. It gives an impression of a chaos, that the state is misruled. That is something that can play against Macron, who is much more afraid of these kind of manifestations than of those called by the labor unions against the labor code," the professor said.

    The French researcher said that Macron had already made a number of mistakes citing his pledges to implement both right and left policy, however, no one sees "anything from the ideology of the left" in his current policy.

    Tags:
    strike, protests, labor reform, Emmanuel Macron, France
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