Monday, October 23, 2006

Rayonnement français 2

PARIS October 20, 2006 (TimesOnline) - Owners of the country’s 200,000 eating and drinking establishments have been ordered to apply the 35-hour week that guarantees most French workers Europe’s shortest working time. The bosses must also pay retroactive overtime for the past 22 months.
The decision by the Conseil d’État, the highest civil court, was greeted with horror by owners and many of the trade’s 800,000 employees amid warnings that it could force small establishments out of business. They appealed for state action to soften the impact.
Under a 2004 accord, catering workers were allowed to work a 39-hour week. This had already led to restaurants cutting costs by such measures as turning away lunchtime customers who arrive after 1.30pm.
The court has annulled the accord. Applying the 35-hour week could force restaurants to close three days a week or refuse a second dinner sitting, owners said.
... André Daguin, President of UMIH [Union des métiers et des Industries de l'Hôtellerie], the main catering owners’ association, said that the council had “managed to transform a win-win agreement into a lose-lose situation” that would penalise workers as well as owners.
Steep payroll charges and tight regulations have caused a shortage of waiters and cooks in the catering establishments that help France to attract more visitors than any other nation.
The council took up the case on an appeal by the CFDT [Confédération Française Démocratique du Travail], one of the big three trade union federations, which was not part of the 2004 pact. The union insisted yesterday that waiting staff would be better off under the new regime, in which employers will have to pay overtime for work beyond 35 hours. Other unions disagreed, citing extra leave that staff will now lose.
Well, if the CFDT insists, well... What the CFDT objects to is not an accord that accommodates both employer and employee. The CFDT here objects to the impudence of a deal to which it was not a party.

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