Hundreds of demonstrators have protested in front of the French Senate as it approved a flagship economic reform bill. As David Pollard reports, there's widespread opposition to reforms despite the precarious state of the country's economy.
Sunday trading: no thanks. French unions let their feeling be known on one key part of a package of new economic reforms. But the 'Macron Law' is one step closer to adoption after a vote in the French Senate. While the man whose name it carries, economy minister, Emmanuel Macron, says it's a must-have for France. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH ECONOMY MINISTER EMMANUEL MACRON SAYING : "We need to move forward, to modernize our country, to give more rights to anyone with entrepreneurial spirit, who's willing to take risks.'' Unions say it'll destroy employment, social rights and family life. But the Senate voted overwhelmingly to approve the measures - the opposition Socialist Party mostly abstaining. The package could allow for an old work-place taboo in France - Sunday trading - to be finally laid to rest. Also on the table: moves to cut red tape, speed up job dismissal procedures and deregulation of, notably, the legal profession. Just hours earlier, the Bank of France reported an improvement in industrial production and foreign demand. It's pencilling in a second quarter growth rate of 0.3 per cent. Better news, says ING's Carsten Brzeski - but not yet good enough. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ING, SENIOR ECONOMIST, CARSTEN BRZESKI, SAYING: "Obviously 0.3 percent growth is not acceptable. France has been lagging Germany for a long while. France has been losing international competitiveness. France has been losing market share. France is seeing an increasing debt to GDP ratio. France has double digit unemployment rate." The bill already courted controversy in February for being pushed through the lower house of parliament under a special, 'accelerated procedure.' It's now expected to go to a parliamentary committee later this month before put to parliament again in June.