French PM hints at backing off from proposed labor law

French PM hints at backing off from proposed labor law

Valls says 'improvement' to proposed labor law possible after widespread protests disrupt oil supply lines across France

LONDON (AA) - French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Thursday hinted at making some "improvements" in the proposed labor reform law as tensions over the issue escalated across France.

According to the French BFM channel, Valls stopped short of saying whether the proposed labor law would be withdrawn as demanded by protesters.

"There could be improvements and modifications," he said, but did not give any details about exactly what the government was considering to change.

The reforms give greater freedom to firms to reduce pay and lay off workers. It also weakens the power of unions to negotiate with firms on issues such as work hours, which is on average 35 hours per week.

A wave of strikes began in the country last year over the controversial proposed labor reforms, which remains ongoing.

Six of the country’s eight oil refineries have been hit by the strikes so far, creating a significant oil shortage at petrol stations.

According to The French Union of Petroleum Industries, more than 4,000 petrol stations are running dry across the country. Petrol stations in the country’s western regions had also been heavily affected.

The strike, which left a significant impact on transportation, also hit the capital Paris. Protests also affected metro services, local trains and airport services.

Demonstrators disrupted supply lines from oil distribution depots in Normandy by blocking motorways and bridges. Reports also suggested that some railways were also being blocked.

Another union called the CGT decided to join the widespread strike, which, it said, would affect 16 of the country's 19 power stations, according to local media reports.

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