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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Macron ne veut rien lâcher

by Kareen Janselme

Macron wants to drop nothing

Consitutional Council

Translated Sunday 20 September 2015, by Adrian Jordan

Sure of itself, the government does not intend to renounce any provision of the law project knocked-back by the sages of the Constitutional Council.

The government has no doubt. Even when the Constitutional Council challenges it. Called upon by opposition deputies on 15 July, the wise men of rue Montpensier censured several legislative measures and riders (these being articles which have no connection with the spirit of the original bill), contained in the catch-all bill “for growth and activity”. This will not alter the mood of Emmanuel Macron, whose first reaction was to celebrate the validation of the “quasi-totality” of the bill. Stepping out of pace, Manuel Valls assured that the law would “now be worked on without delay”. As for the measures censured by the Constitutional Council, having been shown the door, they will come back in through the window: “presented again to parliament in the coming months”, assured the prime minister.

For now, the government remains deaf

Remember however that, substantively, the Constitutional Council censured Article 266 for example, which concerned indemnity limits within employment tribunals. Now, following an unfair dismissal, the law can give reparation through damages and interest for the entire loss suffered by the employee. The Macron law seeks to limit these indemnities, according to years of service in the company and the size of the company, using predetermined rates. For the Constitutional Council, criteria regarding a company’s workforce do not have “a link with the losses suffered by an employee”. In consequence, the “principle of equality before the law”, is not respected.

In rejecting this provision, the sages rejected “a standardised indemnity”, notes the Syndicat des avocats de France (SAF), [1] who acting alongside the trades-unions: CGT; CFDT; FO; Solidaires; Unsa; CFE-CGC; and the Syndicat de la magistrature (SM). The SAF has always considered that “fixed rates of damages and interest due to employees in cases of unfair dismissal, carries a disproportionate effect on the rights of employees subject to employer malfeasance”. For the SAF, the sages sent “a message which the government must listen to”, and so, “put an end to this misguided policy based on the idea that re-establishing growth necessarily depends on undermining the most elemental employee rights”. An opinion shared by Jean-Claude Mailly, the general secretary of FO, [2] who is appreciative of this “initial victory”. “The government should act on that decision and renounce all forms of fixed-scale compensation”, added Sophie Binet, of the CGT. “This decision carries enough weight to do away with this bill”, clearly stated Véronique Descacq of the CFDT. “Obviously, we will remain vigilant to ensure this does not return under another guise - with a ceiling based on other differences, such as age or the worker’s experience.”

For the moment the government remains deaf. Emmanuel Macron took nothing from this decision by the sages except for the validation of the “principle of reform” and confirmation that “limitation of redundancy payments well serves the aims of common interest”. A stubborn attitude which equally holds for the Cigéo plan to dispose of radioactive waste in landfill sites at Bure (Meuse). The Council rejected it; the government will make it “the subject of a bill to be considered in the first week of 2016”. The same for the softening of advertising rules for alcoholic drinks. In the end, nothing astonishing on the part of a government which has abused Article 49.3 on three occasions. [3]

The Constitutional Council saves NKM

The Constitutional Council censured a land reform bill on Thurday, for "disregard for the principle of equality", a bill, which according to the political right, was aimed at preventing the election of Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet to the Metropolis of Greater Paris Council.

[1The Syndicat des avocats de France is a lawyers’ association, which amongst its other aims, seeks to advance and promote the rights of the individual and to improve access to justice.

[2Force Ouvrière, France’s third largest trade-union after the CGT (Confédération Générale du Travail) and CFDT (Confédération Française Démocratique du Travail).

[3This article provides the means for the government to force the passage of a bill and is open to challenge only by a highly improbable vote of no confidence.

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