France at odds over work

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The Independent Online
France at odds over work

Socialists defended French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin's plan to cut France's work week to 35 hours after President Jacques Chirac criticised the proposal, and a poll said that less than half the French support it.

At the close of a jobs conference last week, Mr Jospin said he intended to introduce the 35-hour work week by 2000 as a way to create new jobs and reduce the country's high unemployment rate. Many French employers oppose the plan, which they say would increase costs and would not deliver on promises to reduce the 12.5 per cent jobless rate. During a visit to the central city of Clermont-Ferrand on Thursday, Mr Chirac said it could not be imposed by law and needed to be negotiated.