Labour Law Reform in France

Following months of unprecedented protests by worker and student movements in France, the French government invoked special powers in July to impose labour legislation by decree that will make it easier for employers to hire and fire workers.

These labour law reforms also give individual companies more flexibility to make decisions about pay and working hours according to economic conditions, rather than being “constrained” by collective bargaining procedures.

At the height of the protests, activists disrupted the operation of the oil refineries, nuclear power stations and transport hubs.

“Soft” coup in Brazil

The Brazilian Senate voted to impeach the country’s democratically elected President Dilma Rousseff from office at the end of August in what many are calling a coup.

This impeachment ends 13 years of rule by the Workers’ Party in Brazil and brings to power right-wing leader, Michel Temer.

Temer is set to launch a huge program of privatization and cuts in education, health and other social programs. Labour rights are also under attack by the government, and the country’s national trade union centers have jointly pledged to fight against plans to eviscerate the labour code. The largest of the labour centers, the CUT, was leading the campaign against the impeachment of Dilma. 

Strike Action in South Korea 

At the time of publication, the Korean labour movement was waging the largest public sector strike in its history. The strike is the culmination of months of struggle by Korean public sector unions against government attacks on public services, including new plans to privatize the rail and energy sectors and the imposition of a discriminatory performance-related salary and termination system on public sector workers. Workers were also mobilizing in support of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions’ (KCTU’s) campaign against regressive labour law reform.

After losing its majority in the National Assembly in general elections in April, the ruling New Frontier Party has focused its labour reform plan on the public sector where it can push reforms through government directives rather than legislation. The public sector has become the front line in the wider attack on the working class.