Kohl urges 'patriots' to get down to work

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BONN - Chancellor Helmut Kohl, saying he was fed up with whining hypocrites, urged Germans yesterday to be patriots and work hard to solve their economic problems. The Chancellor, looking back over 20 years as chairman of the ruling Christian Democrats (CDU), said the world had undergone dramatic changes since German unification in 1990 and that Germans must adjust to new realities.

'We have many reasons for being happy, instead of going on with this whining on a high level day after day,' Chancellor Kohl told an interim CDU party congress. 'We should stop doing that. We should stop this hypocrisy.'

The Congress was summoned to discuss a proposed economic reform plan, which includes extending work hours for civil servants by one and a half hours to 40 a week. Unions have objected - they want a cut in working hours.

'I simply can't understand this discussion about whether we should work one hour more or less,' Chancellor Kohl said. 'We are talking about securing the future.'

The government's efforts to allow industry to keep machines running longer seem likely to force a showdown with unions, who refuse to give up a deal to reduce working hours to 35 hours in 1995.

Except for some industries such as steel, where blast furnaces must be lit around the clock, factories may only operate two shifts daily and may not work Sundays or holidays.

Germany's biggest union, the IG Metall, flatly rejected the government's reform ideas and said it would not give up the 35-hour week. 'We will hold fast to the step-by-step plan leading to a 35-hour work week,' a spokeswoman said.

Currently Germany has the shortest working hours and most holidays internationally.