With unemployment in France stubbornly high, Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin has pledged to put more people in work and to relax the rules governing the 35-hour week. He is treading a fine line between employers who argue the shorter working week makes France less competitive and stifles economic growth and the unions, who oppose change.
Raffarin is now proposing that employees will be allowed to work 220 hours overtime each year up from 180. In addition businesses will be able to reach separate deals with their workers for even more overtime. He also said he intended to cut France’s unemployment rate by 10% by the end of next year.