French prime minister invokes article to force through labour bill

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls invoked a constitutional article Wednesday in the lower house of parliament to force through a controversial set of labour reforms for a third time, likely paving the way for their adoption into law.

The bill is aimed at relaxing some labour regulations, including rules governing overtime compensation and union-employer negotiations. It has sparked months of protest from worker unions and student organizations.

Political parties have been split on the reforms, with some saying they don't do enough while others fear they roll back hard-earned worker protections.

Calling it a "text of progress," Valls said the bill is a great reform that is indispensable for the future of the country. The government has argued that it modernizes the work force in France, paving the way for business opportunities that will create more jobs.

Article 49-3 allows for the adoption of legislation without a parliamentary vote, unless the lower house passes a no-confidence motion against the government. A motion against Valls' move was not immediately filed. There is a 24-hour deadline on such motions.

The measures included in the labour overhaul should be implemented as soon as possible after adoption, government spokesman Stephane Le Foll said Wednesday.

France's socialist government already used the constitutional article to force the labour legislation through on the first two readings, despite fierce opposition from both sides of the political spectrum. Wednesday's third reading was definitive.

Protests against the bill have seen violent scuffles between some protesters and police. Public sites - including a hospital in Paris - have also been defaced.

Union leaders vowed to continue to mobilize against the reforms to the labour code that had been proposed under newly appointed Labour Minister Myriam El Khomri.

Strikes against the so-called El Khomri bill, organized by seven main unions, have prompted fuel shortages, the accumulation of rubbish piles and transportation cancellations across France.

The reforms are intended to bring down France's chronically high unemployment levels, one of the key goals of President Francois Hollande, but have been seen by many as a betrayal of his own Socialist Party's traditional platforms.

Last update: Wed, 20/07/2016 - 18:52

More from Europe

European Parliament votes for next president

+EU lawmakers will vote for the next president of the European Parliament on Tuesday, seeking a successor to current...

Theresa May to outline Brexit plans in key speech

British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to indicate her willingness to accept a "hard" Brexit outside the EU...

EU surplus in trade with rest of world rises

The European Union's surplus in trade in goods with the rest of the world in November 2016 rose to 6.9 billion euros...

Turkish authorities capture main suspect in Istanbul nightclub attack

Turkish police Monday captured the man believed to be responsible for the New Year's Eve attack in an Istanbul...

Berlin official resigns after scandal over cover-up of Stasi past

A Berlin official who spent five months working for the East German secret police announced his resignation on...