Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Enlightened European Work Schedules

I have had a good many international friends over the years, plus even more Europhiles, in addition to my 3 recent trips to Europe. I wish I had 6 Danish Kroner for every time one of these let me know how they admired the enlightened shorter work week.

Don't get me wrong- it's a great deal if you can find an employer willing to give you 40 hours wages for 35 hours worth of work. I don't expect any employer to think it's a great deal, though.

Apparently, neither does France, anymore. France has abolished the 35-hour work week. From Bloomberg:
A parliament report last year concluded that the legislation had helped create 350,000 jobs at a cost of 4.5 billion euros ($5.9 billion). The jobless rate in Europe's third-biggest economy fell to an 18-year low of 8.6 percent in mid-2001 from 11.8 percent at the start of 1998.

The 35-hour week has ``heavily weighed on wage increases,'' French Finance
Minister Thierry Breton said March 15, responding to a question from a Socialist
lawmaker in parliament. ``You wanted to share jobs, people had to share wages.''

Go figure. Cause and effect.

Get a load of those unemployment rates! 8.6% is an 18-year low? I shudder at the thought of the 18-year high, then.

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