In March 2020, France’s two-chamber parliament declared a health emergency in the country to counter the spread of the coronavirus, giving the government greater powers to fight the pandemic. The law reaches beyond healthcare measures as it includes provisions on municipal elections as well as measures impacting the French justice system and labor laws. Senior Fellow Laure Assayag founded the group Manifestons Au Balcon to support people in France in understanding the social consequences that she and her team consider as problematic in regard to the law’s labor regulations. Laure wants to make sure that the country’s social protection of employees doesn’t end up as the health emergency’s colateral damage.
Almost 1,300 members registered as members on the Facebook group Manifestons Au Balcon in less than a week. Each day, Laure and her team post explanations about the content of relevant decrees. Members of the group are encouraged to show signs on their balconies to stand up against and raise awareness about the changes to France’s labor laws.
“The emergency is health – the priority is to find medical equipment, beds, masks, tests, and to relieve weight off our health care workers. The priority cannot be to change the labor code. We do not want to work against national unity, nor do we question health emergency measures, but we need to show solidarity and to ensure that the social achievements of our country remain protected.”