As if his job were not tough enough France’s new Economy minister Emmanuel Macron has run into trouble already, for daring to suggest before becoming a minister that France should abandon its 35-hour working week. It was introduced in 2000 as a way of redistributing work and creating jobs. In reality many people work far longer hours.
His suggestion companies could be granted exemptions led to the unions presenting a united front insisting the question is non-negotiable.
New record unemployment, now at nearly three and a half million, was revealed in the June figures, another 0.8% increase, making an increase of 4.3% for the last year.
Macron’s boss wants an early eurozone summit to co-ordinate growth measures:
“Because one young person in four in Europe is unemployed,
because the recovery is too weak, because inflation is too low,
because the euro is too high and because Europe is threatened by a long and possibly interminable stagnation if we do nothing,” said President François Hollande on Thursday.
The French face a banquet of a weak labour market cramping consumption, an uncertain outlook and low profit margins deterring business investment, lower competitiveness cutting the benefits of exports, and spending cuts slowing growth, which has all but disappeared in France.