In France the 35-hour workweek could soon be 39.
Hoping to diminish unemployment, 15 years ago the French government mandated a 35-hour workweek. Not quite as rigid it sounds, the law excluded white collar workers and executives and permitted overtime hours for generous overtime pay. Since then, firms have used the law’s loopholes and shutdown threats to sidestep some of its requirements.
Where are we going? To global competitiveness..
The Future of the Smart Factory
This week, the workers at a Daimler owned Smart car factory in Hambach, France will vote on extending the 35-hour workweek. In exchange for a 4-year job guarantee, they have to accept a 39-hour workweek that pays less than the minimum wage for each extra hour and a one time bonus. Urging a “no” vote, union representatives say, “We cannot live in a world where we’re always scraping savings off the backs of the little guy to enrich the 1 percent.”
But then, citing the need to remain competitive, Daimler could close the plant and relocate near a sister operation in Slovenia. Not only would 1600 factory and supplier jobs disappear but local businesses would also collapse.
Our Bottom Line: Global Competitiveness
With Daimler saying it might relocate to remain competitive, I wondered how the French worker compared to other countries for the minimum wage, working hours and vacation days:
Annual Working Hours:
Vacation Days (data for 2013 and 2014):