[Marxism] French Workers Defend the 35-Hour Work Week

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at osu.edu
Sat Mar 12 11:31:24 MST 2005

"French Workers Defend the 35-Hour Work Week" (The third mobilization 
of the French working class since the beginning of this year, the 
general strike on March 10 is supported by "69 percent of the French, 
according to a survey by polling company CSA for the communist 
L'Humanite daily." A large majority of the French do not want longer 
hours: "A survey by polling company Ifop published in Le Journal du 
Dimanche showed Jan. 30 that 77 percent of 959 respondents would 
prefer to leave their working time unchanged." . . . "Starting in 
1950, hours per employee in Europe dropped faster than in the U. S., 
while the employee/population ratio plummeted during the 1973-92 
sub-interval," while "Europe achieved much faster productivity growth 
in 1950-73 and 1973-2000 than did the United States" [Robert J. 
Gordon, "Two Centuries of Economic Growth: Europe Chasing the 
American Frontier," March 30, 2004, pp. 7, 9]. Not only do shorter 
work hours, invigorating workers, boost productivity; they, in 
combination with strong labor laws that empower the working class, 
also give management a strong incentive to make capital investment to 
raise productivity: "In 1946, the [capital-labor] ratio in the US was 
three times higher than in Europe [Germany, France, and the United 
Kingdom]. By around 1990, the European ratio surpassed that of the 
United States and continued to grow faster than in the United States" 
[Gérard Duménil and Dominique Lévy, Capital Resurgent: Roots of the 
Neoliberal Revolution, trans. Derek Jeffers, Cambridge: Harvard 
University Press, 2004, p. 39-40]. That's certainly a better bargain 
for the working class than the American bargain of trading longer 
hours and higher labor force participation at slower productivity 
growth for only a slightly bigger real GDP per capita [Gordon, 
"Figure 1: Per Capita Real GDP, Europe and the United States, 
Selected Years, 1820-2000," p. 54].): -- FULL TEXT: 

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