France's new President has promised to introduce a raft of reforms to boost the economy. But he's already facing pleas from unions not to rush through his plans, highlighting how difficult his task may be.
Workers rights are important in France. In December it was staff at the Eiffel Tower who downed tools over pay and conditions. Leaving tourists to view the attraction from the ground. And the ground is where previous attempts to reform labour laws have largely remained. The new French President hopes to change that as soon as this summer by using executive decrees. The plan has had unions lining up at his door. (SOUNDBITE) (French) GENERAL SECRETARY OF CFDT WORKERS UNION, LAURENT BERGER, SAYING: "The President seemed determined to implement what he had announced. But he seemed open to dialogue and willing to listen so we'll see what unfolds." For many employers Emmanuel Macron is offering new hope. (SOUNDBITE) (French) PRESIDENT OF THE FRENCH EMPLOYERS ASSOCIATION (MEDEF), PIERRE GATTAZ, SAYING: "When you see that national and international investors still consider France a scarecrow then these labour reforms are extremely important and need to be done quickly. There is also the issue of the cost of labour." Unemployment remains stubbornly high in France. Anything that improves that will be welcome. But making it easier to hire and fire goes against French culture. (SOUNDBITE) (English) OANDA SENIOR MARKET ANALYST, CRAIG ERLAM, SAYING: "France and its very essence is quite a socialist country. The unions have always played a big role in the labour market and Emmanuel Macron in his very nature is almost quite the opposite." Giving more power to companies to reach deals in-house is part of the plan, along with capping severance packages awarded by industrial tribunals. Neither are popular with unions. And Macron's honeymoon period may not last long if he steps on too many toes.