March 5 - Thousands of demonstrators hit the streets of Paris to protest against labor law reforms supposed to give firms more flexibility to weather economic downturns. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
(ROUGH CUT ONLY - NO REPORTER NARRATION) Two left-wing French trade unions began nation-wide protests against the changes backed by mainstream unions to give firms more flexibility to weather economic downturns. The organisers, the hardline CGT and FO, have called for rallies in 200 cities across France, as well as a large march in Paris towards the French Parliament which is set to pass a law based on the proposals next month. The turnout will be seen as a barometer of opposition to a reform vital to Socialist President Francois Hollande's battle to restore industrial competitiveness. Signed by mainstream unions in January after lengthy talks with employers, the "flexicurity" accord means more job security for workers on short-term contracts, but makes it easier for firms to put staff on shorter hours if orders dry up. Companies will also gain new rights to dismiss any who refuse to participate. The changes will also seek more flexibility from workers asked to relocate to match fluctuations in demand. The bill, which Hollande wants to be enacted in May, will be presented at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.