French employers protest increased government regulation

Global Business

Thousands of French bosses protested in Paris as part of a week-long revolt against government regulations and taxes, saying the new rules are crushing French enterprise. CCTV America’s Kate Parkinson reported the story from Paris. The last time associations of employers took to the streets was nearly 15 years ago when France implemented a 35-hour work week.

French employers protest increased government regulation

Thousands of French bosses protested in Paris as part of a week-long revolt against government regulations and taxes, saying the new rules are crushing French enterprise. CCTV America's Kate Parkinson reported the story from Paris. The last time associations of employers took to the streets was nearly 15 years ago when France implemented a 35-hour work week.

France’s new Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron has actually proposed targeting the work week law. Macron said the 35-hour working week paints an image of France as a country that does not want to work. The law should no longer be considered untouchable, said Macron, given France’s economic challenges.

France’s trade unions lashed back against the idea immediately, and vowed to fight any attempt to tear down one of French workers’ most cherished rights.

“The unions are very opposed. The employers would like a miracle reform where they could make people work 40 hours, while only paying them for 35 hours, which would generate a very big reduction in labor costs,” said Economist Henri Sterdyniak. “The problem, of course, is that the workers won’t let them do that and so it’s a subject that is extremely contentious.”

In reality, for most French people, working 35-hours is nothing more than a dream. A labor ministry report said French workers put in an average of 39.5 hours a week in 2011, which is only slightly behind the European Union average of 40.3 hours.

Macron, a former banker who is pro-business and pro-reform, has triggered a fight with his own party. The head of the Socialist Party has said any efforts to weaken the 35-hour standard will not be implemented.