France starts shaking up labor laws

PARIS (AP) — France's Socialist government has unveiled a plan to relax and simplify labor laws in hopes of stemming job losses that are threatening Europe's second-largest economy.

The plan now goes to the Socialist-dominated parliament, and the government is hoping it can be in place by the end of April.

France's leading employers' group and three top unions agreed to the plan in January, and it was formalized into a draft law at a Cabinet meeting Wednesday. Two hard-line unions oppose it, saying it's too generous to bosses and threatens hard-won worker rights.

The plan would offer companies in financial difficulty more flexibility in setting working hours and salaries. The government hopes that will help businesses stay afloat, instead of shutting down factories or moving production to countries with cheaper labor.