Recently I was reading an article in Bloomberg regarding the financial effects of a strike by refinery workers over at Total SA in reaction to labour reforms that are being pushed through under Francois Hollande’s government.
As I read this report I was interested in what exactly the labour force of the refineries – and soon the labour force from other industries was striking about.
Let me first state that prior to the labour reforms France had some of the best protection for workers in the world – which is very admirable. However French workers striking over rollbacks to labour protection laws which were all ready the best in the world ‘strikes me’ as being similar to a spoiled child who is suddenly learning the limits of what he can and can’t have – in other words the sympathy for these workers is very small.
We must always judge government action in the context of the time that it is taken – and in comparison to other parts of the world. Some may disagree and claim that we should only operate within the confines of our own country – and not roll back rights granted to certain groups – however when it comes to economic laws, including those that apply to labour – we cannot ignore the globalisation perspective – we are part of the world.
Of course – the reason the labour laws were able to be passed in the first place is due to France’s unusually strong labour unions. However if the Labour Government is rolling back labour reform laws – and holding steady even in the midst of Euro 2016 shows how important it is for France to catch up with the rest of the world for their economic development.
Unfortunately labour laws can stifle productivity – not just in terms of decreased economic investment but from the large amount of red tape and decreased productivity – all of which in the end has little benefit to the worker.
For example the Labour Law is a 4,000 page document in France called the “Code du Travail” and this document contains specific sections on things such as the size of the windows in the office. The ones that are affected immediately are job seekers – since the legal red tape to hire is so vast it simply demotivates companies from hiring. This is why the unemployment rate is 10% in France – double that of Germany.
The real people affected by this are the disenfranchised young – who are not able to get their foot in the door of the working world. And along with the economic long term impact it is the young that will suffer.