Workers, unemployed and youths joined forces on Wednesday, answering calls from student organizations and unions in more than 200 cities across France to try to kill the bill, which has even divided Hollande’s ruling Socialist party.
Paris police didn’t immediately release figures, but according to various unions quoted by local media, between 80,000 and 100,000 people took to the streets in the French capital.
The protests fell on the same day as rail strikes that delayed some suburban and long-distance trains — but not local transportation networks in Paris.
The contested labor reform would amend France’s 35-hour workweek, approved in 2000 by the Socialists and now a cornerstone of the left. The current Socialist government wants adjustments to reduce France’s 10-percent unemployment rate as the shortened workweek was meant to do.
The proposal technically maintains the 35-hour workweek, but allows companies to organize alternative working times without following industry-wide deals, up to a 48-hour workweek and 12 hours per day. In “exceptional circumstances,” employees could work up to 60 hours a week.
To allow companies to deal with business booms, one measure would allow employees to work more than 35 hours without being paid overtime. In exchange, they would have more days off later on. Other measures would relax rules on layoffs and working from home and at night.
The proposals have turned all major employee unions and youth organizations against the government. With next year’s presidential election looming and Hollande’s popularity having reached its nadir, legislation to make it easier for companies to end employment deals is...