PARIS (Sputnik) — French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Wednesday called for respect for the parliamentary majority, which had approved the labor reforms provoking nationwide protests, adding that he was "attentive" to those opposing the changes to labor regulations.
On Tuesday, hundreds of thousands across France participated in rallies against the recent changes to the labor code. According to the legislation's opponents, the reform shifts the balance from workers to employers and diminishes employees' rights.
"I respect the dispute, it exists, I listen to it. The freedom of manifestations is fundamental in France … We need to respect this right, I am listening and I am attentive… We need to respect those French who take to the streets to protest, but also in a democratic country we need to respect the parliament, which by the majority of votes, approves the text outlining these measures," Philippe told the France 2 broadcaster.
The prime minister added that French nationals expressing their will during the recent legislative elections, which led to President Emmanuel Macron's majority in the French parliament "have an equal right for respect."
"An absolute parliamentary majority gave the government the green light to carry out this [labor] reform. I will outline once again, that it has been presented to the National Assembly and the Senate, it was voted for, long discussions took place in the parliament," Philippe explained.
The reform of the French labor code was one of the cornerstones of Macron’s campaign during the presidential election this year. The reform is meant to liberalize the French labor market and tackle high unemployment rates. Many trade unions oppose the measure regarding it as unnecessary and depriving workers of their rights, since it will make it easier for enterprises to fire their employees.
The final decision about the implementation of the legislation is expected to be taken by the French Council of Ministers on September 22. In the wake of Tuesday's rallies, some major French labor unions called for a repeated demonstration on September 21. Additionally, several opposition politicians, including leader of the left-wing Unsubmissive France party Jean-Luc Melenchon, pledged to make the government "back down" on the reform.