French PM Valls says no blackmail to pass labor reform

French PM Valls says no blackmail to pass labor reform

PARIS – Reuters
French PM Valls says no blackmail to pass labor reform

AFP Photo

France’s prime minister, Manuel Valls, said yesterday he will not commit blackmail by threatening to resign, as the government is facing opposition to pass the new labor reform. 

In an interview with French weekly newspaper Le Journal Du Dimanche (JDD), Valls said the reform is a “win-win” for both employers and employees and that he will try to convince the Socialists, Far Left and Green party members to vote for the bill. 

When asked about rumors that he could put at stake his title, Valls said: 

“I never did and I will not blackmail to resign.” 

Rising unemployment, at an 18-year high of 10.6 percent, is a reminder to voters that President François Hollande failed to live up to promises to put the jobless rate on a convincingly downward path, which he set as a precondition for running in the next presidential election in 2017. 

The reform, which would put almost all aspects of the country’s strictly codified labor relations up for negotiation between employers and unions, has widened divisions in the governing Socialist party. 

“We must enrich and complete this preliminary bill. But what would be terrible is the status quo,” Valls told JDD. 

“I could have said there are 14 months left, I would slow down, take no risks ... It’s not my vision of politics”. 

France’s government will present labor reforms two weeks later than planned, on March 24, following strong pressure from unions and within the governing Socialist party. 

Valls said there is room for negotiation with unions, which have asked for a stricter definition of redundancy plans. He said the draft bill must further emphasize that reform is primarily intended for small and medium-sized companies, where there is fear of hiring. 

“We want to ensure our social model and the rights of employees while giving more flexibility to companies,” he told JDD.