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    French President Francois Hollande waits for a guest at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, December 2, 2015.

    Hollande Becomes Most Unpopular President Ever Amid Labor Reform Crisis

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    French President Francois Hollande's popularity has plummeted to a record low of 17 percent as he faces another day of protests against his reforms of the strictly codified labor laws which have sparked massive opposition.

    According to the latest poll by Odaxa for L'Express newspaper and France Inter radio, only 17 percent of the French consider Hollande to be a "good president." His Prime Minister Manuel Valls scored a 29 percent approval rating in the same survey.

    Hollande is facing deep divisions within his own party and well as continuing mass protests by students and unions after surviving a no-confidence vote over his reforms to the country's labor laws and bypassing parliament to push them through.

    France has been paralyzed by a series of nationwide strikes – particularly by students – against French President Francois Hollande's proposed reforms to the highly codified French labor laws – known as the Code du Travail – in order to give employers more flexibility.

    He survived a no-confidence motion, tabled by opposition conservatives in the lower house of the French Parliament, which fell 42 votes short of the 288 required for a majority, but Hollande will take no comfort from not having the backing of 24 of his own party, which will further deepen divisions within the socialists.

    Flexible Employment

    The labor reforms were largely directed at making companies take on more workers on permanent contracts, rather than temporary ones, to bring down the unemployment rate from ten percent. The proposals would give employers more scope to lay-off workers and cut costs and allow some employees to work far longer than the current 35-hour week. 

    Other reforms include a cap on severance pay for workers dismissed by a company. The current uncertain cost of laying-off workers means that companies are risk-averse to doing so, leaving them less flexible and – in some cases – less productive. Opponents say the reforms would undermine workers' rights on pay, overtime and breaks.

    The reforms would normally pass to the upper house of the French Parliament, where the Republicans have a majority, paving the way for a political ping-pong match, but Hollande's Prime Minister Manuel Valls won cabinet approval to invoke the rarely-used Article 49.3 of the constitution, which allows the reform bill to bypass parliament, immediately sparking more protests across the country.

    Related:

    Hollande: 'I Will Not Yield' Over Controversial Labor Reforms Amid Protests
    Hollande Faces Further Protests and Splits After Surviving Confidence Vote
    French Students Take to the Streets in Protest at Hollande's Labor Reforms
    Tags:
    domestic politics, riots, labor reform, unions, students, unemployment, poll, popularity, protests, demonstrations, French Presidential Election 2017, French Socialist Party, Francois Hollande, Paris, France
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