Leon Blum Wins Breathing Space But Faces Venomous Opposition

Sunday 7th June 1936

Leon Blum's Front Populaire left wing government in France was slowly surmounting its first hurdles. The day before it has secured  parliamentary approval by a large majority (in line with the result of the election) for a very detailed programme of reform which included a 40-hour working week and other measures for which the unions had been pushing. Blum had a comfortable parliamentary position but he faced virulent opposition, notably from the extreme right wing anti-semites of Croix du Feu such as the deputy Xavier Vallat, who deplored the fact that this "old gallo-roman country should be ruled by a Jew."

Organized labour also decided to show solidarity with the Front Populaire now that their main demands - collective bargaining and the nationalization of war industries - had been met and backed away from the outright confrontation with employers of the last few weeks. But this came at a price. Wages were to rise by 7% to 15%. Strikes were also continuing in the less biddable and more fracture dsegments such as the newspaper industry, the tailoring trade and sleeping car attendants.


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