French unemployment reaches record high amid protests

IAN LANGSDON

Parisian high school students take part in a demonstration against the government's controversial labor reform in Paris, France, 24 March 2016. French students have taken to the streets on a weekly basis to protest against a draft of a labor reform law led by French Labor Minister Myriam El Khomri. Sign (R) reads 'El Khomri, what a joke', sign (L and C) reads 'Get up and protest for your rights'

Last week, students protested against the proposed labor reforms introduced by the government aiming to make the job market more flexible


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The French unemployment rate rose by 1.1 percent in the month of February, according to data released by the Labor Ministry on 24 March.

According to France24, the above one percent rise in the unemployment rate is the largest increase since September 2013 and follows a slight dip in January. According to the Ministry, jobless numbers were increased and stood at a record of 3,591 million job seekers.

Trading economics website reported though that the French unemployment rate fell to 10.3 percent in the December quarter of 2015, as compared to a downwardly revised 10.4 percent in the previous three months.

This was the lowest figure since the June quarter of 2015 and stood below the market expectations. However, in regard with December’s figures, the Labor Ministry had announced then that the French monthly job-seeker count reached a new record high in the last month of 2015 as 15,800 more people were out of work.

Overall, the French government wants to adopt labor laws which will make it easier for companies to hire and fire employees. Many unions are against the draft laws and the same day the Ministry announced the record high unemployment rates, students launched a big protest against the liberal reforms.

According to AFP news agency, the protests were intense as some of the demonstrators torched cars and clashed with the riot police. The police forces responded with tear gas and arrested fifteen protesters.

Despite the protests, the labor reforms were adopted on Thursday by the cabinet of ministers. The French Prime Minister Manuel Valls praised the labor laws as “intelligent, audacious and necessary.”  Labour Minister Myriam El Khomri, also said that the new bill “lends new momentum to social democracy,” and it is “balanced…providing new flexibility to companies and new protections for workers.”

According to AFP news agency, the government’s proposed reforms are scheduled to be taken up by parliament’s social affairs committee on April 5, and by the full body in late April or early May.

French President Francois Hollande, whose term ends in May 2017, has said he will not run for President if he fails to drastically lower the French unemployment rate.

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