• Refinery blockages, strikes risk damaging recovery, Valls says
  • Strikes intensifying as power plant workers called to protest

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls opened the door to making changes to the reform of French labor law that has prompted workers to protest across the country, while ruling out its withdrawal.

“What are the alternatives -- a withdrawal of the text? That’s impossible,” Valls said Thursday on RMC radio. “Modifications” and “improvements” could be considered, he said.

Strikes at French refineries and railroads are intensifying as the CGT union contests legislation that would shift negotiations between workers and management to the company level and trim requirements on overtime pay. Six of France’s eight refineries are on strike, the union has called for workers at nuclear power plants to walk off the job Thursday and the national railroad is entering its eighth week of disruption.

Valls said the protests risk damaging the French economic recovery. The core of the law that deals with employee-management negotiations will be maintained, Valls said.

“This country dies because of its conservatism, its inability to reform,” Valls said. The law is “good for for the general interest, good for companies.”

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