National Assembly approves'day of solidarity' for elderly

12th May 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 11 (AFP) - France's lower-house National Assembly on Tuesday approved on first reading a bill that would force workers to give up one of their cherished days off to help finance a plan to protect the elderly.

PARIS, May 11 (AFP) - France's lower-house National Assembly on Tuesday approved on first reading a bill that would force workers to give up one of their cherished days off to help finance a plan to protect the elderly.

Members of the ruling centre-right Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) voted for the creation of a "day of solidarity", while their junior partner, the Union for French Democracy (UDF), and the left-wing opposition voted against.

The bill will now go to the Senate for approval, with debate opening on May 26.

The government-sponsored bill initially called for the Pentecost Monday (Whitmonday) bank holiday to be scrapped, generating an extra two billion euros (2.4 billion dollars) a year in revenue to be poured into care for the elderly.

The proposal originated in the wake of last summer's deadly heat wave, which claimed the lives of some 15,000 people, most of them older people living alone or in retirement homes.

But employees balked at the idea of losing one of about a dozen public holidays, and so the bill approved by the National Assembly allows companies to decide whether their workers will lose a holiday or another non-work day.

If no agreement can be reached, workers will be forced to clock in on Pentecost Monday by default, according to the draft.

©AFP

Subject: French news

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