World

Thousands Protest Macron Over Labor Reforms

Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets Tuesday across France in protest of President Emmanuel Macron’s labor reforms.

The protests, representing one of Macron’s first major tests in his four months as president, come as the young president works to overhaul the nation’s labor code, known as the “Code du Travail.” The protests were led by the nation’s second largest union, the General Confederation of Labour (CGT), who called the reforms a “social coup d’etat.”

The changes proposed by Macron would loosen up regulations for small companies, allowing employers more room to hire and fire employees. The new reforms would also grant individual businesses more autonomy to handle internal workplace issues, instead of having to abide by the current regimen where businesses agree to industry wide practices.

Despite opposition from the far-left, Macron is expected to enact the reforms by decree Sept. 22. The young president has “fast-tracked” the reforms through France’s version of executive power.

Macron’s efforts follow previous attempts to reform the labor code that have been successfully thwarted by the nation’s powerful labor unions. Macron’s efforts are buoyed by the decision of the nation’s largest union, the French Democratic Confederation of Labour (CFDT), to sit out of the protests Tuesday.

Union officials took issue with the president’s characterization of those opposed to his reforms as “slackers” and cynics, calling those words “scandalous.” Macron said the reforms are necessary to combat the nation’s 9.5 percent unemployment.

Macron steered clear of the protests Tuesday, as he was in the Caribbean visiting the French islands of St. Martin and St. Barthelemy, which were hit by Hurricane Irma.

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