Hollande pledges to push on with new labour laws but strikes threat grows

French president Francois Hollande has pledged to press on with unpopular labour reforms despite nationwide strikes bringing the country to its knees and a fresh wave of industrial action planned this weekend. Speaking at the G7 summit in Japan, Mr Hollande said he would not let protesters strangle the economy. “I will keep going because I think these are good reforms,” he insisted, pledging his government would do all it could to ensure life returned to normal. However, there was little sign of union leaders backing down as they urged workers to “multiply and support” the strikes.

Our primary duty … is to do everything to maintain the supply of fuel to the public and to continue to provide essential public services

Francois Hollande

The laws being forced through parliament would make it easier for companies to hire and fire workers, with unions saying the reforms would erode workers’ rights while unlikely to tackle unemployment. They said the “stubbornness” of the government in refusing to withdraw the contested law was only “boosting the determination” of its opponents. A fresh wave of protests is planned, even as prime minister Manuel Valls agreed to meet oil industry representatives on Saturday. Unions have also called for a day of industrial action, including strikes on the Paris metro, on 10 June, the first day of the Euro 2016 football tournament.