French Prime Minister Manuel Valls (R) speaks to French Labour Minister Myriam El Khomri before the questions to the government session at the National Assembly in Paris, France, May 11, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Platiau(reuters_tickers)
PARIS (Reuters) - Rebel French Socialist lawmakers failed on Wednesday to gather enough votes from among the party and left-wing allies to table a no-confidence motion against the government over its plans to push through disputed labour reform by bypassing parliament.
The party rebels required support from 58 lawmakers for the no-confidence vote to go ahead in the National Assembly, but they secured backing from only 56.
The government of Prime Minister Manuel Valls nonetheless faces a no-confidence vote on Thursday proposed by conservative lawmakers, though this is likely to fail in the absence of a majority.
Coming a year away from a presidential vote, the close rebel vote on the motion highlights a growing revolt within the Socialist party from leftwingers frustrated at the government's pro-business policies and particularly outraged over the labour reform.
Unable to win support from rebel Socialists and left-wing groups for the unpopular bill, the government opted on Tuesday to use a rarely-used constitutional clause to avoid a vote in parliament and pass the reform by decree.
The government faces a wave of potentially violent protests on Thursday after calls for nationwide street rallies from trade unions and youth movements viscerally opposed to both the reform itself and the decision to override parliamentary opposition.
The hardline CGT union called on port and dock workers to strike against the law on May 17 and 19.
Opinion polling agencies say as many as three in four French people oppose a reform that would make it simpler to lay off staff in hard times and allow employers to apply in-house rules on pay and conditions instead of national ones.
Hundreds of police and a number of protesters have been hurt in clashes since the reform plan emerged at the end of March.
Without a majority in the National Assembly, the conservatives' own no-confidence motion has next to no chance of toppling the government, even if rebel Socialists and left-wing lawmakers back it in a vote on Thursday.
(Reporting By Emile Picy, writing by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Richard Balmforth and Ed Osmond)