Macron signs labour reforms into law

Emmanuel Macron with French and European flags and garden behind
President Emmanuel Macron fulfilled a major campaign promise when he signed the reforms into law by executive order

Sweeping changes to France's complex code du travail will now be published in the Journal Officiel, with the first changes taking effect within 'a few days'

President Emmanuel Macron has signed a series of labour reforms into law, live on TV.

Flanked by Employment Minister Muriel Pénicaud and government spokesman Christophe Castaner, Mr Macron signed the executive orders into law early on Friday afternoon, and said that he welcomed a reform that he described as 'unprecedented' in the Fifth Republic.

The 160 pages that make up the executive orders will now be published in the Journal Officiel - and the first measures, including the right to remote working, will take effect 'within the next few days'.

Further decrees will come into force before the end of the year - and all will be in effect no later than January 1, 2018, Mr Macron said. "It is now up to our fellow citizens to live this unprecedented transformation in our social model," he added.

The reforms, which have been broadly welcomed by the business community and France's EU partners, have been fast-tracked via executive order to reduce the opportunity for further union protests.

In signing the measures into law, Mr Macron has fulfilled a major campaign pledge four months after moving into the Elysee. He and his government say the changes will improve employment prospects.

The reforms including making it easier for employers to hire and fire staff, and greater fllexibility to negotiate pay and conditions with their workers.

They were published in August, following three months of negotiations with union leaders over the summer. Speaking at the time, the moderate CFDT and FO unions said they were disappointed with some aspects of the reforms, but called on their members not to join any protests.

The militant CGT, however, said it would fight the changes and called for a series of general strikes, starting on September 12, when more than a quarter-of-a-million people marched in protest.

On Thursday, however, only an estimated 132,000 demonstrators took to the streets for a second wave of protests, indicating that the will to challenge Mr Macron's policy is weaker than it was during the closing days of his predecessor Francois Hollande's term in office.

Mr Hollande's efforts to reform labour laws sparked wave after wave of occasionally violent protests.

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