Letter: Follow the French

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The Independent Culture
Follow the French

Sir: Contrary to the assertion by Hamish McRae ("France, a lucky nation poised on the brink of prosperity", 18 June), the proposed 35-hour week in France may well be a step in the right direction. Handled properly and in return for new agreements on flexible working patterns, it should allow a reduction in unemployment and a better quality of life for those already in work.

You reported on 1 June the beginnings of a revolt against the culture of work in Britain ("Most people sacrifice family life for their jobs - and hate it"). Maybe we are actually catching up with France, where a reduction in working time has been widely debated for several years, culminating in a massive endorsement for the policy in last year's general election.

Hamish McRae does not explain why the 35-hour week is such a bad idea. In common with most mainstream commentators, he assumes that full-time work organised through the deregulated market is the only way to operate an economy and socialise people.

Never forget we live in a world of unprecedented wealth. We have more latitude than ever before to decide how we create and distribute it. Also do not forget that France's regulated labour market produces a GDP per head around 10 per cent greater than the UK's.