Euro 2016: UEFA Planning 'Various Scenarios' for French Strikes

French Strikes
A striking French CGT union employee stands at a barricade near an oil refinery, Donges, May 26. Demonstrations against planned changes to labor laws are sweeping the country. Stephane Mahe/Reuters

UEFA, European football's governing body, is working on "various scenarios" in case strike action currently sweeping France continues until the Euro 2016 football tournament begins in June.

A spokesperson for UEFA tells Newsweek via email: "UEFA is in constant contact with French authorities and the host cities and is working on various scenarios in case strikes were to take place during the tournament, especially in cities hosting matches of UEFA Euro 2016."

Asked about the precise nature of such plans, the spokesperson said they were unable to comment further.

Strikes and demonstrations have been gradually building for around three months, and center around planned changes to France's employment laws. This week, blockades at oil refineries by striking workers have forced the country to dip into its emergency fuel reserves. Walkouts at some nuclear power stations began Wednesday.

Euro 2016 will see the world's media focused on France for a month of international football from June 10 to July 10. Some 2 million people are expected to arrive in the country for the games.

Beleaguered socialist President Francois Hollande has talked up the reforms as a much-needed shot in the arm for France's stagnant employment market. With unemployment having remained stubbornly at about 10 percent for five-and-a-half years, despite falls in comparable European economies, Hollande says he wants to cut red tape and make hiring new staff a more attractive prospect for employers.

Among other differences, the new law would see France's famous 35-hour week remain intact but in a more flexible form. Workers would need to work for a maximum of 35 hours as an average, but firms would be able to negotiate with trades unions to vary hours up or down week to week, to a maximum of 46 hours, the BBC reported. It would also make it easier to fire people and to lower pay.

The government provoked particular ire from the unions after it decided to impose the new law by decree earlier this month, over-riding parliament.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said "there could be improvements and modifications" to mollify the law's critics, but the CGT union said in response that "We are not asking for alterations" and added "the law must go," The Times reported.