Now where did I define "employee protection" as "employees working for free"?
Oh, that's right, I didn't. I even gave an example of how strong employee protection made sure I got paid even though my company couldn't pay me.
In the example I gave, the government paid our salaries while the company negotiated with its creditors; the company then had to pay that money back to the government. I never missed a paycheck; the employees were indeed protected.
Had the company failed in its negotiations with their creditors, it would have had to declare bankruptcy and the state would have covered our salaries during the bankruptcy proceedings. After that, we would be on our own.
Luckily for me, the company succeeded in reducing or cancelling their debts and made a full recovery (which was actually the whole point of the example, to answer the question "do companies recover from a situation where they're unable to pay salaries for a period of time" - yes they sometimes do).