French government invokes emergency power to pass labor reform

PARIS, July 5 (UPI) — Dozens of French lawmakers walked out of parliament Tuesday as the prime minister invoked constitutional powers to push a labor reform bill through without a vote.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced the use of Article 49 of the French Constitution to enact legislation without majority approval in parliament that will allow businesses to negotiate directly with employees over work hours.

The proposed law has been the focus of numerous strikes and rallies this year, some of which turned violent, by tradesmen, railway workers and other unionized employees in France. French President Fran├žois Hollande’s approval rating is at a record low because of controversy over the proposed law.

“We have made choices, clear choices,” Prime Minister Manuel Valls said in the National Assembly as some Socialist Party legislators walked out in protest. He added that the emergency power in the constitution “allows us to advance. We’re acting in the interest of the French people.”

Union protests are planned for Tuesday, with more scheduled in September.

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