Royal dares to question 35-hour work week

5th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 5, 2006 (AFP) - France's Ségolène Royal — the Socialist presidential frontrunner who sent sparks flying by calling for army training for young offenders — has violated another left-wing taboo by attacking the 35-hour working week.

PARIS, June 5, 2006 (AFP) - France's Ségolène Royal — the Socialist presidential frontrunner who sent sparks flying by calling for army training for young offenders — has violated another left-wing taboo by attacking the 35-hour working week.

In a text published on her website, Royal says the 35-hour week introduced by a Socalist government in 2002 has had "mixed results for the quality of working life" — the main argument put forward at the time for its adoption.

The number of people on flexible working hours has jumped from 10 to 40 percent as a result, she argues, with employees facing longer working hours and greater time pressure on the job.

Royal said this had the "unintended consequence of worsening the situation for the most vulnerable, notably for women with few qualifications" who now had less time to spend with their families.

She also said the measures — and subsequent case-by-case negotiations on its implementation — had led to a "spectacular loosening of labour laws".

The Socialist Party is due in July to adopt a common manifesto ahead of the 2007 presidential elections, a first draft of which called for the 35-hour week to be extended to all French sectors.

The 52-year-old Royal has emerged as the clear Socialist frontrunner to succeed President Jacques Chirac next year — bringing one step closer the prospect of France electing its first woman president.

Although in many ways a traditional Socialist, she caused an uproar last week by suggesting the creation of military-style academies for young offenders — leading rivals in her party to accuse her of populism.

She has also upset fellow Socialists by confessing to an admiration for British Prime Minister Tony Blair, seen as heresy by most of the French left.

Her comments were published as part of an interactive book posted on Royal's website 'Desires for the Future'.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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