32. Le Code du Travail

“We have never retreated from anything, ever.” – Stéphane Sirot, labor historian

Hello everyone! This week’s episode is a bit timelier than usual – I thought it would be an interesting experiment to dive deeper into some of France’s biggest headlines today. As the French return from their holidays and I prepare to leave for one of my own, the system which produced the famous five weeks of paid leave is about to undergo serious reform. Is France’s famous labor law, the code du travail, a symbol of everything that is brilliant in France – or everything that is broken?

Episode 32: “Le Code du Travail”

Pictures of Le Train Bleu:



“Recharged for Fall: In France, They Call It La Rentree” – Alan Riding, The New York Times, 1998.

“Is a ‘bloated’ labour code to blame for France’s economic woes?” – Benjamin Dodman, France24, 2016.

“The ‘banker’ who would cure France’s ‘three diseases'” – Benjamin Dodman, France24, 2016.

Le Roux, Thomas. « L’émergence du risque industriel (France, Grande-Bretagne, XVIIIe – XIXe siècle) », Le Mouvement Social, vol. 249, no. 4, 2014, pp. 3-20.

“Macron Takes on France’s Labor Code, 100 Years In The Making” – Adam Nossiter, The New York Times, 2017.

“Emmanuel Macron Is Ready To Push Through A ‘Revolution’ in How France Works” – Vivienne Walt, TIME Magazine, 2017.

“Demonstrators in France Protest Labor Changes” – Aurelien Breeden, The New York Times, 2017.

“France: Strikes and protests against Macron’s labour reforms kick off” – AFP, The Local, 2017.

“Le code du travail, éternellement controversé, fête ses cent ans” – AFP, Le Point, 2010.

“France Unveils Contentious Labor Overhaul in Big Test for Macron” – Alissa J. Rubin, The New York Times, 2017.

“France’s Macron hits at radicals with ‘lazy, cynics’ jibe” – The Local, 2017.

“Macron Pushes Changes to French Labor Laws” – Eleanor Beardsley, NPR, 2017.

“Five key ways Macron wants to change France’s labour code” – The Local, 2017.

“The Real Battle Begins: Mr. Macron vs. the Labor Code” – The New York Times, 2017.

Further Reading:

In-depth perspective from the far left: “A French Spring” – Jonah Birch, Jacobin Magazine, 2017.

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