Main French union disappointed with Macron reforms, but not joining protest


French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday was set to unveil a raft of proposed reforms to the country's labour laws in an attempt to lower its unemployment rate. It trims union powers, adds a voice for small businesses and creates easier ways to hire and fire workers. The changes, he said, would end the constricting of France "squeezed by rules and rights ... which believes itself to be a country of liberty".

French President Emmanuel Macron said in an interview he had major differences with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Ukraine and "won't let him get away with anything", according to Reuters.

The labour reforms comes as the 39-year-old president suffers a steep drop in popularity ratings.

France's biggest union, the reformist CFDT, said that it was disappointed with what amounted to a missed opportunity to improve labour relations, but said it would not call a strike against the reforms.

"Of course, we know that labour laws are not the primary cause of unemployment in France", Mr Philippe said.

On Thursday, the French government announced a plan including 60 measures to overhaul the labor code in an effort to loosen regulations and stimulate the economy.

Meanwhile, the far-left political party France Unbowed (La France Insoumise, LFI) led by former presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon voiced a more furious response.

Also included is a plan that firms with fewer than 50 employees could negotiate with workers' representatives that not affiliated with unions.

One measure caps the financial penalty for companies sued by employees while another simplifies negotiations between employers and employees.

However, the main employer's union in France, MEDEF, called the changes "the beginning of an interesting reform" that will need vigilance as the measures are put into practice.

Foreign investors and France's European neighbors were watching Macron's plan closely.

"We must see things as they are: We are the only major economy of the European Union which hasn't vanquished mass unemployment in more than three decades", Macron told the newsmagazine Le Point. Partners have repeatedly called on France to reform its job market to boost Europe economically.