Students Protest Across France to Stop Hollande Labor Reform

  • High schools blockaded and some trains slowed by protesters
  • Government has already watered down law aimed at job creation

Some high schools in France were blocked and several trains were briefly stopped in Brittany as students protested a law intended to make the labor market more flexible.

Even after the government watered down its proposals, student unions such as Unef scheduled protests Thursday, saying the reforms will make employment more precarious. The government says the extra flexibility it is trying to introduce will make it easier for young people to find work.

Without the support of a single union and facing protests from students, President Francois Hollande’s government offered a compromise Monday, dropping a clause that would have capped severance pay for firings and promising more funds to support untrained youths. Hollande maintained proposals to allow companies to cut jobs more easily for competitive or economic reasons and give companies greater freedom to negotiate working hours with their employees.

“There is no progress, the thinking behind the law is still the same,” Samya Mokthar, president of student union UNL, said in an interview on BFM television.

Trains were briefly stopped in the Western city of Rennes when about 1,000 students occupied the Western town’s train station, Agence France-Presse reported. About 115 of France’s 4,300 high schools were blockaded today, television station BFM said. Three people were arrested in Paris at the start of a demonstration at Place de la Republique.

The final version of the law will be presented to Hollande’s cabinet March 24.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.