France says 35-hour week is failing

The French government described the 35-hour working week as a financial disaster that was costing the state billions of dollars and promised to reform the system despite fierce union opposition.

The finance minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, said that the 35-hour week had burdened the state with additional social charges and that it had demoralized millions of workers.

The 35-hour week came into effect in 1997 as an idea for reducing unemployment. Unemployment now is just under 10%.

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