Saturday, February 05, 2005

 

Thousands Of French Protest Longer Working Hours.

Boy, good thing that Nazi thing didn't work out for them. They would've really hated their work hours under the Reich:

PARIS, Feb 5 (Reuters) - French President Jacques Chirac's conservative government faced a major challenge to its economic policies on Saturday as tens of thousands of public and private sector workers protested over labour laws, pensions and schools.

With more than 50,000 taking to the streets in provincial cities, organisers said they hoped for a national turnout of at least 300,000 nationwide to ram home their message.

"The government would do well not only to hear but to listen to the workers," said the secretary-general of the CGT union, Bernard Thibault, at the start of the rally in Paris.

The protests come as parliament debates a government plan to allow staff in the private sector to increase overtime and work up to 48 hours a week, the maximum allowed under EU law. But managers must first agree the changes with unions.

Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin says rules must be relaxed to help cut stubbornly high unemployment, currently close to 10 percent, and make the world's fifth largest economy more competitive.

Four of France's five major unions called Saturday's protests against reforms they say would sound the death knell of the 35-hour week and result in longer hours
without extra pay.
It's nice to hear people complaining about their 35-hour work week. It doesn't make me feel too self-conscious when I complain about my my 65-hour work week.
A recent poll showed some 77 percent of workers surveyed wanted to keep their working week at the current level. Only 18 percent wanted to work longer hours.
Well, duh. No man or woman wants to work longer hours. It's just that many don't have a choice.

And, the benefit of working those longer hours-- at least in a, you know, *real* economy-- is that you either get more pay, or you get ahead at your job faster.

I may hate working as much overtime as I do-- especially as I don't get cash for it-- but in return, I obtain several benefits: comp time I can use later on, improved work quality, and ultimately, I won't let down my co-workers.

Sure, I wish I had a wife and kids right about now, but I don't. So, my greatest validation for whatever self-worth I have is doing a good job during my day. It's not always easy keeping motivated, but I manage.

The French-- like their German neighbors-- suffer from ridiculous unemployment levels, not to mention painful economic stagnation now entering its second decade.

How much longer can these governments go on thinking that the cure to their malaise is *more* government intervention? How many more socialist benefits are needed to snuff out whatever entrepeneurial flame once existed in these once great nations? How hard is it for these countries to learn that governments can't plan economies, that only individiual empowerment can generate wealth?

One would think they would be okay with being second-best, but their political stances in recent years demonstrate how inferior they feel on the world stage. My advice would be to stop whining and start working, and in a few years, perhaps America, France, and Germany can talk as equals again.

Alas. I'm willing to bet a couple of Euros that ain't gonna happen anytime soon.

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