[Marxism] Capitalist competition screwing over European workers

Derek Seidman derekseidman at yahoo.com
Wed Jul 7 07:20:19 MDT 2004

This article says that the reduction of work hours in
places like France has failed to create jobs, which
was given as a key reason to support the reduction.
Anyone know why? Does longer hours induce a decrease
in productivity?


Europe Reluctantly Deciding It Has Less Time for Time

Published: July 7, 2004

FRANKFURT, July 6 — For Michael Stahl, a technician at
a cordless telephone factory in the town of Bocholt,
summer is usually a carefree season of long evenings
in his garden and even longer vacations. His toughest
choice is where to take his wife and three children on
their annual camping trip: Italy and Croatia are on
this year's itinerary.

Two weeks ago, however, Mr. Stahl got a rude jolt,
when his union signed a contract with his employer,
Siemens, to extend the workweek at the Bocholt plant
to 40 hours from 35. Weekly pay remains the same. The
new contract also scraps the annual bonuses every
employee receives to help pay for vacations and
Christmas expenses.

"I'll have to make do with less," Mr. Stahl said with
a sigh. "Of course, the family will come off the

After nearly 27 years at Siemens, Mr. Stahl, 42, feels
he has no choice but to put in the extra time. Like
millions of his fellow citizens, he is struggling to
accept the stark new reality of life in a global
economy: Germans are having to work longer hours.

And not just Germans. The French, who in 2000 trimmed
their workweek to 35 hours in hopes of generating more
jobs, are now talking about lengthening it again,
worried that the shorter hours are hurting the
economy. In Britain, more than a fifth of the labor
force, according to a 2002 study, works longer than
the European Union's mandated limit of 48 hours a


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