labor reforms

Labor Reform Protests



reform tension breaking point
union strike (2) nationwide
hope multiple rush-hour
aim split (2) concerning
rate flexibility other than
tough stubborn drive down
fire (2) matters exasperation
call for railway commuter
impact standstill wide ranging
cancel majority turn away
fresh election


Video: Labor Reform Protests



Tensions are at breaking point. Protests against the labor market reforms in France turned violent.

In Paris, police arrested multiple demonstrators. Unions called for a general strike, planning hundreds of protests nationwide.

Those hoping to continue life as normal spent the morning rush-hour waiting: half of the train journeys in the capital were canceled.

Commuter: “We have to work; we have no choice.”

The aim of the changes is to make it easier for firms to fire employees when times are tough. The government hopes it will give companies flexibility to hire when times are good — and to drive down the stubborn ten percent unemployment rate.

Myriam El Khomri, French Labor Minister: “Concerning the protests, I want to make a few things clear. There are some people protesting the railway reform, for example. There are many different calls for protests, as exasperation on matters other than labor reform.”

The strikes haven’t brought France to a standstill . . . but the impact has been wide ranging: tourists hoping to visit the Eiffel Tower were turned away.

Tourist: “Oh, we’re pretty upset because we came a long way; we were visiting London and then we came here. But it’s closed. We really wanted to go up there. It’s pretty sad.”

Experts are split on whether the reforms will actually create more jobs in the country.

And the majority are asking why President Hollande left such an important political project until the last year, ahead of fresh elections.

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1. The protests have been entirely peaceful. True or false? Are the demonstrations taking place only in Paris?

2. Is everyone striking or protesting? Does everyone support the demonstrations?

3. What is the main issue? What does the government propose? What are the demonstrators against?

4. Business and life is going on as usual in Paris. Yes or no?

5. There is unanimous agreement that the reforms will create more jobs and reduce unemployment. Is this right or wrong?

6. “And the majority are asking why President Hollande left such an important political project until the last year, ahead of fresh elections.” What does this mean?


A. Are there strikes, protests and demonstrations in your city? What are people protesting or demonstrating about?

B. Who are the protesters in the video? What do they want? What is their agenda?

C. Who favors the reforms? Why do they want reforms? What do you think?

D. What may happen if the laws are passed? What could happen if the laws are not passed?

E. Are the labor laws in your country flexible or strong, like in France?

F. What will happen in the future?

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