Defiant Macron signs his contested labour reforms into law

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Defiant Macron signs his contested labour reforms into law
AFP
President Emmanuel Macron on Friday signed sweeping changes to France’s complex labour code into law, sealing a signature reform after four months at the helm. He will do it live on TV.
“The reform… constitutes an unprecedented transformation of our social model (and) the economic functioning of our country,” the 39-year-old Macron said, adding that it had been “carried out in record time”.
The measures, which have triggered mass protests, are designed to give employers more flexibility to negotiate pay and conditions with their workers and makes it easier to lay off staff.
Macron signed the reform, contained in five executive orders, seated at his desk in the Elysee Palace before television cameras in a US-inspired novelty for a French president.
The overhaul, eagerly awaited by the business community and France’s EU partners, was fast-tracked via executive orders as a way of avoiding a prolonged battle in the streets.

AFP
The measures chip into worker protections that have long been sacrosanct in France, frustrating reform-minded governments whether on the left or the right.
But Macron insisted Friday that the reform contained “new rights and new protections”, such as a provision for higher payouts to workers made redundant.
Three months of negotiations with union leaders pointed up a split between those willing to compromise — the CFDT and FO — and those determined to fight the reforms, led by the largest and most militant union, the CGT.
But the resistance has been far weaker than that faced by Macron’s Socialist predecessor Francois Hollande over his changes to the labour code, which sparked a wave of sometimes violent protests last year.
On Thursday, some 132,000 people demonstrated across France, just over half the numbers who took part last week in the first major street protests organised by trade unions since the centrist Macron was elected in May.
The Macron team insists that the reforms will encourage hiring and will offer the best cure to France’s stubbornly high unemployment rate, which stands at 9.5 percent, roughly twice the levels in Britain or Germany.
Public opinion is divided, according to a recent BVA poll, with most respondents saying they think the reforms will boost France’s competitiveness but fail to improve employees’ working conditions.
Critics see the use of executive orders as reinforcing perceptions of Macron as a monarchical or even “pharaonic” leader.
But Macron insists he has a mandate for change after sweeping the board in presidential and parliamentary elections in May and June.
“Democracy does not happen in the street,” Macron said in New York on Wednesday.
Source  :  The Local France

French labour reforms: What’s actually going to change for workers in France

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French labour reforms: What's actually going to change for workers in France
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French president Emmanuel Macron signed his contentious labour reforms into law on Friday, but what will they actually change for those who work in France?

he reforms overhaul large parts of the 3,300-page labour code which details workers’ rights, with some chapters dating back over a century.

What’s in the new law?

The reforms will give small companies in particular more freedom to negotiate working conditions with their employees, rather than being bound by industry-wide collective agreements negotiated by trade unions, or the national labour code.

For example companies with less than 11 employees will be able to negotiate conditions directly with staff without having a union representative present. It’s these kind of changes that worry unions, who believe ordinary employees are not sufficiently trained to negotiate with bosses.

While certain issues will still be decided on at industry-wide level, with the input of unions, companies will be able to thrash out agreements directly with staff over subjects such as, whether they get a 13th month salary, loyalty bonuses, how many days off a year to cover child sickness, the number of extra days off for maternity leave etc.

A cap has also been set on the amount of compensation awarded by industrial courts in cases of unfair dismissal — a key demand of bosses who complain that lengthy and costly court cases discourage them from hiring staff in the first place.

The payout will depend on how long the person has been employed for and will rise progressively. For example a member of staff wrongly sacked after two years can gain compensation worth three months salary and a worker with 30 years of service can receive a maximum of 20 months salary.

Workers will now have 12 months rather up to 24 months to lodge their application with the tribunal for compensation for wrongful dismissal.

Defiant Macron signs his contested labour reforms into law

This latter measure was one among several that were withdrawn from reforms implemented by Macron’s Socialist predecessor Francois Hollande under intense pressure from the unions.

In a further concession to companies, multinationals whose French operations are struggling will find it easier to lay off staff — even if they are making profits in other countries — while workers made redundant will receive higher payouts.

Voluntary departures, known in France as “rupture conventionelles” which are agreed on by both the employee and the company, will also be extended. Currently they have to be done on an individual basis but in future companies can put through “collective ruptures”, which will not be classed as redundancies.

Workers leaving via a rupture conventionelle are eligible to claim unemployment benefit (chomage).

The reforms will also give workers more right to work from home if appropriate and give companies more say on how long and how many times temporary CDD contracts are renewed for.

A few changes, including a measure to streamline workers’ committees, which are mandatory within large companies, will not take effect until the end of the year.The benefits and perks of working in France

What do the unions say?

Philippe Martinez, the head of the most militant union, the CGT, has said the reforms give “full powers to employers” and has vowed to press ahead with a series of strikes and demos which began last week.

But the leaders of more moderate unions, including the CFDT — the biggest private-sector union — and the leftist Force Ouvriere have been more conciliatory and the CGT’s street protests appear to be losing steam already.

“The future of trade unionism… is our presence within companies” rather than on the streets, the head of the CFDT, Laurent Berger, said Thursday protests organised by the CGT.

In parliament, the opposition to the changes is led by the radical France Unbowed party of leftist firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon, which is planning a mass march in Paris on Saturday.

The right and centre-left parties in parliament have broadly backed the reforms.

What’s at stake for Macron?

Macron resorted to executive orders — with the blessing of a parliament dominated by his Republic on the Move (LREM) party — in the hope of avoiding a repeat of the months-long, sometimes violent protests unleashed by Hollande’s labour reforms last year.

But the changes come as the former investment banker’s approval ratings have plunged, with recent polls showing that only around 40 percent of French voters are satisfied with his performance.

Protesters have seized upon Macron’s dismissal of opponents to his reform as “slackers”, with slogans such as “Watch out, Macron, the slackers are in the street”.

The president is hoping the changes will incite companies to hire more, while also encouraging foreign investors who have long been put off by France’s powerful unions and restrictive labour law.

The reform is also crucial to his wider plans for the European Union: he wants German cooperation in making institutional changes to the 28-member bloc.

He believes that improving French competitiveness is a necessary first step to build trust in Berlin and restart the Franco-German motor which has driven integration on the continent.

 

Source  :  The Local France

Country observes international peace day for the first time

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By LUKE KAMA

THE International Peace Day which falls September 21 every year was observed for the first time in the country yesterday.
A “peace walk” was held in the morning from Murray Barracks to Jack Pidik Park in Port Moresby led by the military and police bands.
Watt Kiddie, the founder of WK Kiddie PNG Peace and Gutpela Sindaun Foundation, organised the event.
Kiddie said there was a need for the people of PNG to embrace peace in their lives.
“Thanked God Almighty that we have this International Peace Day to ask ourselves what we are doing for peace for PNG,”
Kiddie said.
“Peace to the environment, the seas, the mountains down to the valleys, in the small villages and across the rivers, in the forests and the bushes, in the cities, towns and our workplaces and marketplaces and everywhere.
“What have we done to peace in PNG? Are we actually doing enough for peace? We are still falling short and there is a real need for peace in PNG and in all our communities.
“This day basically reminds us to stand up for peace in our family and our community.”

 

Source  :  The National

Go Hunters go

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PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has led the cheering and the chorus of “best wishes” as three teams prepare to represent the nation in the rugby league arena this weekend.
“This is a great weekend for rugby league in PNG,” O’Neil said.
It starts on Saturday at the National Sports Stadium when the PNG PM’s 13 play the Australian PM’s 13 in an annual fixture with a focus on healthy communities and lifestyles.
As the curtain-raiser to that match, history will be made when the national women’s rugby league teams of PNG and Australia face each other for the first time.
“We wish both the PM’s 13 and our national women’s team every success on Saturday,” O’Neill said.
Then on Sunday, focus will shift to Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane when the PNG Hunters meet the Sunshine Coast Falcons in the grand final of the Intrust Super Cup.
“On behalf of the people of PNG, it gives me great pleasure to extend to the PNG Hunters best wishes for victory,” O’Neill said.
“Ever since the PNG Hunters were first admitted to the competition, the team has represented PNG and our national sport, rugby league, in the best spirit of the game and our nation.
“Sunday marks a most significant achievement for the PNG Hunters, for the players, coach, and officials.
“Playing in the grand final for the first time, after winning the minor premiership, is a mark of the success the PNG Hunters have achieved in a short period of time in a highly competitive competition. The coaches, players, officials, and sponsors have achieved great success this season.
“We wish you a safe game, and a truly historic victory on Sunday.”
Governor-General Sir Bob Dadae said “win or lose”, the country was proud of what the Hunters had achieved.
Marum told The National yesterday that they were not putting any pressure on themselves ahead of the match.
“As long as the boys go out there and play their best football and remember what we’ve work hard for, that’s all that matters,” he said.
The team leaves for Brisbane at 3pm today.

 

Source  :  The National