- France wants to let companies and employees negotiate work hours directly
- Proposal would invert collective bargaining hierarchy that benefits big unions
- Popular anger at the diluted reform package has strengthened radical unions and may force a government climb-down
France has 3.5 million jobless and a rocketing youth unemployment rate of 25 percent. It was time for the government to do something about it – especially as President Francois Hollande won election in 2012 by promising to “reverse the unemployment trend.” Institutionalized rigidities have created a two-track job market, with “insiders” enjoying a high degree of job security through long-term contracts, while “outsiders,” whose numbers are growing, subsist on precarious short-term contracts or have no jobs at all.