Officials in France will meet with student unions to respond to fierce opposition to proposed labor reforms. Young people were at the forefront of street demonstrations against the draft law held this week.
Labor Minister Myriam El Khomri, who drew up the pro-business reforms that were contested in protests held Wednesday, told media Thursday the government was willing to make some changes to ease concerns about them.
"People are protesting, it's there, we must listen to the criticism," she said.
According to official Interior Ministry figures, 224,000 people turned out to signal their opposition to the far-reaching labor reform plans, which they feared would undermine job security for young people. Protest organizers reported that up to half a million people took to the streets.
The planned law puts almost all of France's strict labor relations rules up for scrutiny and includes giving companies more flexibility in hiring and firing staff. Under the proposed reforms, falling orders or sales would be sufficient cause for shedding staff. France is looking for ways to boost its economy as it struggles with an unemployment rate of 10.2 percent.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls was due to meet with student organizations in the coming days to discuss the proposed law.
Plans for the bill, nicknamed the Khomri law after the labor minister, to be submitted to cabinet this week have already been derailed by the outpouring of opposition, including from within the governing Socialist party.
French President Francois Hollande said the bill could be "improved," but ruled out scrapping it altogether.
"The idea is not to withdraw what has not yet been adopted, presented… the law can be improved, there are surely clarifications to make, corrections to make… while preserving the spirit," Hollande said, explaining that the spirit of the law was for there to be more young people entering the job market with permanent contracts.
Wednesday's protests coincided with the largest transport strike in nearly three years, resulting in widespread train cancellations and delays.
se/sms (Reuters, AFP)