Until now we had only heard of labor unions taking to streets to protest their low pay, poor working conditions or other similar issues. But in France, thousands of business owners gathered up in the streets to protest against being forced to improve their employees' working conditions.
As per police sources, approximately 4,000 employers took to the streets of Paris, Marseille and Toulouse on Monday and demanded from the government to revoke the employee-friendly policies it has imposed on businesses.
Clad in neon-yellow vests and construction helmets, the protestors chanted slogans and displayed placards with messages such as "Free Our Businesses" written on them.
In 2000, France famously reduced its legal work week limit to 35 hours and has taken several other measures to better the employment conditions of its working class. While these policies have naturally been welcomed by the country's proletariat, the business owners feel marginalized.
Accumulating over three decades, their frustration has finally boiled over as they are now demanding from the policymakers to give them some relief for a change. They argue that employment taxes and pro-labor policies have stifled their businesses and greatly hindered their ability to compete with foreign enterprises.
“Business leaders are exasperated while their businesses are suffering in a very difficult economic situation,” said Jean-Eudes du Mesnil du Buisson, head of the CGPME association of small- and medium-sized businesses.
"We've had enough, they need to let us get on with our work, we can't breathe," added Michel Bergeret, Regional President of Small and Medium-Sized Business Federation. "They say, 'We are going to simplify things' but everything is getting complicated."
The novelty in the nature of this protest aside, these businessmen make a fair point. By making it illegal to hire workers on weekly contracts with less than 24 hours on it, the French government runs the risk of boosting its unemployment level – which is already at a rather unhealthy 10 percent.