French Language Blog

Le Président et le code du travail Posted by on Sep 18, 2017 in Uncategorized

If you’ve been listening to the news lately, you might have heard that the newly elected French president, Emmanuel Macron, has been the subject of protests because of his vision of changing France’s labor laws.

In French, labor laws are referred to as le code du travail. Travail, of course, means “work,”  and workers can be called les travailleurs.

Last May, Macron won a surprising victory as a newcomer to French politics after creating his own centrist political party. (You can read more about this upset here.) He is young and ambitious and has seen his popularity decline since his ascension to the highest political position in France. This is largely due to his vision of progress in France, which many are resisting, and his focus on making France more business friendly.

While Macron comes from a Leftist tradition in France, he has been critiqued as belonging to part of la gauche caviar. This is a derogatory remark in French, which means a wealthy or bourgeois progressive politician who is disconnected from the real struggles of the lower and middle classes (Phew. There’s a lot packed into that seemingly simple expression!). In fact, Macron has drawn criticism from the Left due to his seeming disconnect from the plight of French workers. For example, in May Macron received a lot of negative attention from progressives for wearing a 1200 Euro suit and then stating, “la meilleure façon de se payer un costard est de travailler.” (“The best way to buy oneself a new suit is to work”; you can read more about this in French here.)

Macron’s new plan would make France’s labor laws, which have traditionally supported workers, more beneficial to employers. It would include making it easier to fire and hire new workers in the hopes of improving France’s economic position. French unions and workers have stated that they will continue to protest against this new proposed law, with a large demonstration scheduled for September 23. However, these changes to le code du travail remain controversial, as figures on the right, economists, and businesses have suggested they could be helpful to the French economy.

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About the Author: Elizabeth Schmermund

Bonjour tout le monde! I'm a freelance writer, doctoral student, mom, and Francophile. I'm excited to share some of my experiences living in France, as well as the cultural nuances that I've learned being married to a Frenchman, with all of you. To find out more about me, feel free to check out my website at A la prochaine!