August 30, 2017 / 3:45 PM / a year ago

France's FO union rejects call for protests against labor reforms

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s third largest trade union on Wednesday rejected an appeal from the far-left CGT union to join nationwide protests next month against government steps to loosen labor market regulations.

In a potential boost for the government, the head of the Force Ouvriere (FO) union told Les Echos newspaper on Wednesday that his union would not join the CGT, France’s second biggest union, in its protest on Sept. 12.

Jean-Claude Mailly voiced satisfaction that the government had held extensive consultations with union leaders over the planned reforms, which will shift collective bargaining to the company level and make it easier to hire and fire staff.

It marks a shift in stance for a union that last year joined the CGT in a wave of street demonstrations over several months that forced the then-Socialist government to dilute its own labor reforms. Ultimately though, the unions failed to halt the process.

The FO’s decision also left the CGT looking isolated among the leading unions. The moderate CFDT union has so far shown little appetite for protests against centrist President Emmanuel Macron’s reform campaign.

The government will unveil full details on the labor reform on Thursday before pushing the bill through by decree after winning parliament’s support for such a move.

The labor reforms are seen as a bellweather for Macron’s ability to secure his wider economic and social reform agenda despite his declining popularity and threats of unrest.

A BVA poll on Wednesday found 55 percent of people in France held a negative opinion of Macron, echoing other surveys.

Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry; Writing by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Richard Lough/Mark Heinrich

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