Friday, May 13, 2016

Hollande Survives Confidence Vote As France Slides Deeper Into Chaos

French President Francois Hollande suvived a 'no - confidence' vote today but now faces deepening divisions within his own party as well as in the French population.  Continuing mass protests by students and trade union members showed the battle of over his reforms to the country's labour laws are far from finished. Hollande has hardened opposition to his reforms after bypassing the French parliament to push them through.

France has been paralyzed by a series of nationwide strikes – particularly by students – against French

The President (le petit crapaud) proposed reforms to the highly complex French labour laws – known as the Code du Travail – in order to give employers more flexibility.

The no-confidence motion proposed by conservatives in the lower house of the French Parliament fell 42 votes short of the 288 required for victory, but with twenty four members of Hollande's socialist party voting against him, he will take no comfort having survived the attempt to unseat him. The outcome will further deepen divisions within the socialists.

Holland now has to decide what disciplinary action he is going to take against the rebels within his party – including former ministers Benoit Hamon or Aurelie Filippetti.

 The labour reforms were largely directed at making companies take on more workers on permanent contracts, rather than temporary ones, a trend caused by European Union labour laws which make it almost impossible to fire an unsatisfactory worker. by pushing the laws through Hollande also hoped to bring down the unemployment rate from ten percent. The proposals would grant employers more flexibility to lay-off workers and and allow employees to work far longer than the current 35-hour week, and thus swell their pay packets through overtime pay.  France's 35-Hour Week Under Threat as Presidential Hopefuls Signal Change

Other reforms include a cap on severance pay for workers dismissed by a company. The current cost of sacking workers mean that companies are risk-averse to doing so, leaving them less flexible and – in some cases – less productive. Employers are also more likely to contract out work to non EU nations such as Algeria, India, Vietnam and Indonesia. Opponents say the reforms would undermine workers’ rights on pay, overtime and breaks.

Any reforms to French law would normally have to 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 has won cabinet approval to invoke the rarely-used Article 49.3 of the constitution which allows the reform bill to bypass parliament.

This immediately brought protest from opponents who accused Hollande of behaving like a socialist dictator caused riots in Paris, Nantes and Bordeaux. Hollande is set to face further strikes and protests in what is becoming a major stand off between government and people.

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