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French press review 23 September 2017


The new French labour reform becomes law, despite protests by some trade unions. Hard-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon has called for a demonstartion against the Macron government's social policy in Paris this afternoon. US President Donald Trump's ban on visitors from six countries is due to expire tomorrow. He may be planning to add more nations to the list.

Despite two days of strikes and demonstrations against the proposed changes, France now has a new labour law.

French President Emmanuel Macron signed the changed regulations yesterday and they became law when they appeared in the official government gazette earlier this morning.

There will have to be a parliamentary vote of ratification, some time in the next few months, but the government is unlikely to lose that, given the size of its majority in the National Assembly.

Le Monde says we'll have to wait several years to see the real impact of the new laws, which the Macron government argues will make it easier for employers to take on staff.

Those trade unionists who have protested against the changes say it will now be easier for bosses to get rid of staff, that the law marks the end of life-long, full-time job security and offers less protection to those employees who lose their jobs.

Macron keeps a promise, on live television

Left-leaning Libération notes that yesterday's signing ceremony, which was covered live on television, was reminiscent of scenes in the Oval Office of the Washington White House.

This was a way of marking an exceptional event, according to government spokesman Christophe Castaner. This was the solemn redemption of one of the promises made by the president on the night of his election last May. And Emmanuel Macron wants France to see that he's keeping his word.

We'd better get used to it. Forthcoming reforms, of the budget, security, housing law, professional training, will all get the same high-profile treatment, with the president adding his signature before the cameras each time.

As for the labour law changes, the president has called on all French workers to see them as a series of possibilities which can be made work and will create work, not as a threat.

Hard-left leader Mélenchon takes a big risk

Hard-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon is not listening. He's organising his own protest against the new law this very day.

Right-wing daily Le Figaro says Mélenchon is spending at least 100,000 euros on the organisation of today's Paris march, hoping to bus in supporters from 120 cities across France.

Mélenchon wants, according to Le Figaro, to establish his credentials as the only viable opponent of the Macron machine. If he can manage a big turn out today, his hand will be strengthened, especially since he has called the Paris march to protest against all aspects of the current government's social reform plan, not just the labour changes.

But there's a greater risk than a poor turn-out today, says Le Figaro, and that's a level of success that makes the two demonstrations called already this month by the CGT trade union look ridiculous. So, a poorly supported Paris march would be bad; a big turn out could be worse. Mélenchon is certainly playing a high-risk game.

Will visitors from more countries be banned from the US?

This is the weekend when the 180 million inhabitants of the six countries banned from entry to the United States for the past three months by Donal Trump's anti-terrorist controls will find out if they can, once again, visit family and friends in the US.

The presidential decree banning visitors from Syria, Libya, Iran, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen expires tomorrow. Le Monde warns that, far from abandoning the ban, Trump may actually extend it to include other, as yet unnamed countries.

Yesterday, says Le Monde, the US State Department announced that a certain number of states either couldn't or wouldn't meet the security demands imposed by Washington. They could now find themselves added to the original list of six.

The US Supreme Court will announce its decision on the legality of Trump's ban early next month.

Top chef wants to make soup for the poor of Paris

Le Figaro reports that the Italian chef Massimo Bottura, whose Modena restaurant was named best in the world last year, is going to open a Paris branch for the very poor.

The idea is a sort of soup kitchen, with the "soup" produced by the best chefs in the world.

Bottura, who charges 600 euros for a dinner in Modena, has already run operations for the needy in Milan, in Rio during the Olympics and in London. He's against waste and exclusion and feeds the homeless by collecting and transforming the leftovers from local businesses. Bravo!

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