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Drop 35-hour week: government report

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10:30 CEST+02:00
A new government report on international French business competitiveness has suggested ending the the 35 hour working week.

The Gallois report, lead by former EADS chairman Louis Gallois, was originally launched by the government to look into France’s slumping competitiveness by cutting social welfare charges paid by companies.

The report suggests “a possible abolition of the 35 hour week”, with employees' working hours to be negotiated between unions and employers.

A 35 hour week was introduced in 2000, under Prime Minister Lionel Jospin’s socialist government, and has been heavily protected by law since.

The report, which will be handed over to president Hollande on November 5, is expected to urge that social welfare charges paid by companies be cut by €30 billion ($39 billion) in the next two to three years.

The burden of financing France's social programmes could then be transferred to sales or income taxes, though that would be a highly controversial decision for a Socialist government.

Gallois has already sparked union outrage by saying that France needed a competitiveness "shock" to turn its economy around.

In their data, INSEE said the managers of industrial companies surveyed "characterised their past activity as very weak" and "were also pessimistic, but in a less pronounced manner, about their own prospects in the coming three months."

French manufacturers' outlook also continued to worsen, while they considered their order books to be "depleted".

At the worst point of the global financial crisis the French industrial sentiment index fell to 69 points in March 2009.

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