French minister dreams of 32-hour working week

While many outside France still balk at France’s 35-hour working week, one government minister would like to see it reduced even further. She might be onto something.

French minister dreams of 32-hour working week
Forget the 35-hour working week, make it 32 and be done with it. Photo: AFP

France made headlines around the world back in 2000 when it brought in the 35-hour week in a bid to boost jobs.

Over the years it has helped fuel the rather unfair stereotype of the French being workshy and lazy.

But one government minister would like to see the working week slashed even further.

Reacting to the news that France had just relaxed its rules around Sunday shopping to allow stores to open more often, Justice Minister Christiane Taubira revealed her perfect working week.

“I dream of a world where we don’t work on Sundays, where we don’t work either Saturdays or Sundays,” she told BFM TV.

“I dream of a world where we would only work 32 hours a week, so we can dedicate time to others, to read books and go to the theatre,” she said.

Despite her opposition to working on Sunday, Taubira, who is on the left of the party, said her “loyalty was complete”.

Later on Friday PM Manuel Valls set the record straight saying “what the French really want is work” and that “working was a value”.

France’s 35-hour week has stood the test of time and is almost considered untouchable, despite all the country’s economic problems.

Every time a right wing or liberal politician or a leading business figure calls for it to be changed the Socialist government quickly reaffirms its steadfast commitment to the flagship policy.

The reality is that most workers in France work longer than 35-hours each week.

A labour ministry report published last year revealed French workers put in an average of 39.5 hours a week in 2011, slightly behind the EU average of 40.3 hours and the 41-hour working week in Germany and 42.4 hours in the UK.

While many business leaders and foreign economists regularly mock France for its 35-hour week, a recent OECD report that detailed everything wrong with the French economy, made no mention of it.

Perhaps Taubira is onto something.

SEE ALSO: France must simplify life to save economy


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