demonstration in France

Clément is a university professor in Paris.  He is 32 years old and has been an activist in the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) since it was founded in 2009.  He responds to the ISO’s questions on about the social movement against the labour law in France.

Translation was provided by Brittany Travers and Cory Anderson.

What is the code du travail and what significance does it have for French workers?

The “code du travail” (labour code), is a document that brings together the legal regulations governing the rights and duties of employers and employees. It is an important legal tool that offers workers special protection against their employers.

Obviously, the labour code isn’t a “gift” offered by just any enlightened, generous government. It was won with the sweat, tears and sometimes the blood of workers. It reached its first draft in 1910, due to large strikes that were repressed in 1906 and 1908. Since its genesis, the labour code is in a constant state of evolution. It is the culmination of more than a century of social struggle.

The labour code has always been the object of attack by employers. Today, these attacks are largely played out by the media, the right and François Hollande’s government (which still claims to be left). The labour code is allegedly ‘too outdated,’ ‘too complicated’, ‘too restrictive’ for employers who need more ‘flexibility’ – even for the workers who would apparently like to have the ‘freedom’ to work more.

But this propaganda does not take hold of the minds of most workers, and the labour code is still perceived to be one of our most important social gains. [Read More…]

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