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France's 35hr work week


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#1 of 63 Kirk Gunn

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Posted March 10 2005 - 04:05 AM

Is it just for union members, or the general population ? Or... is it similar to the US: If you get paid hourly, you typically work 40hrs, but if you're salary you typically work 80 Posted Image



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#2 of 63 Holadem

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Posted March 10 2005 - 04:24 AM

As far as I know, the concept of hourly wage does not exist in France. I never heard of that until I came to the US.

Wages are paid montly.

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#3 of 63 andrew markworthy

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Posted March 10 2005 - 04:30 AM

I don't think it's just France - I suspect that in general in Europe we have a more relaxed attitude to work (even in Germany where periodic holidays in spas paid for by the company were at least until routine the norm). 35 hours is a little below the norm I suspect, but probably not by much (e.g. for the UK, I believe it is about 37 hours).

However, we're talking about salaried employment in 'normal' jobs here. If you take the self-employed or 'city slickers' then they're probably on a par with the USA.

I think that there are also different opinions about job types in the USA and Europe as well. E.g. I gather that you have a fairly dim view of mail workers over there, whereas in the UK postmen and women are generally well-liked and thought to be friendly and hard-working.

#4 of 63 Jeff Gatie

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Posted March 10 2005 - 04:51 AM

Quote:
I gather that you have a fairly dim view of mail workers over there, whereas in the UK postmen and women are generally well-liked and thought to be friendly and hard-working.


Other than the ones that "Go Postal", we have the same view of our mail carriers. I can't speak for others, but my family had a great relationship with our mailman growing up. Even the ones that do unleash murder and mayhem usually do so at the postal depot, so I imagine the customers along their routes are grateful for that.

As an aside, I have seen UPS (United Parcel Service) men get almost rock star like status. The local UPS guy in my mom's neighborhood has a son in Afghanistan. When his customers found out his son was serving, they all hung "get home alive and well" ribbons on the front door and took the son's address so they could e-mail him. There was coverage in the local paper and everything. Must be those brown shorts...

#5 of 63 Jay H

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Posted March 10 2005 - 04:55 AM

...or the hundreds of really nice and shiny biking/hiking/kayaking gear that the UPS guy delivers me. I love my UPS guy even though I've never seen him/her. I'm usually at work...

As far as the USPS mail carriers, growing, up, we've all had a affinity to our mail carrier, we would get a christmas card (back when you could get a christmas card and not a "holiday card") every year and we would leave a little tip in the box. Even today, we still get a card from the carrier.

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#6 of 63 Robert_Gaither

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Posted March 10 2005 - 05:13 AM

Though it seems most people have respect for USPS and UPS (I don't, they have killed way too many of my packages), what are considered the bad carriers?

#7 of 63 Jeff Gatie

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Posted March 10 2005 - 05:20 AM

Quote:
what are considered the bad carriers


I don't know if I have respect for the USPS or UPS, I just happen to like their representatives that personally serve me. I may not like the fact that I get letters lost or packages damaged, but the one's that personally serve my house are respect worthy. It's those clowns at the depot that screw it up for them (not realistic, I know, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it). Seriously, the workers that have daily interaction with their customers are probably far more conscientious than the ones that only deal with the packages. It's human nature.

#8 of 63 ThomasC

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Posted March 10 2005 - 05:57 AM

It's always a joy to go to my college town post office. The clerks are very nice and attractive. Posted Image I've always had good interactions with anyone who delivers to me, be it USPS, UPS, Fedex, DHL, or Airborne (now DHL).

#9 of 63 Kirk Gunn

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Posted March 10 2005 - 06:55 AM

USPS ? UPS ??? Talk about a thread hijack !!!! Posted Image

#10 of 63 Gary->dee

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Posted March 10 2005 - 08:20 AM

Quote:
I don't think it's just France - I suspect that in general in Europe we have a more relaxed attitude to work
My impression is that the US is much more money-orientated than Europe and probably the rest of the world, whether it's people, businesses and the government. People are overly materialistic which is spurned on by the media. Businesses are all too eager to feed the populations lustful passions, sometimes obsession, with shopping. The government...ok I don't want to turn this into a political thread but I think we all know how much the US government puts the dollar before human lives.

Compared to Europe, they have a more lax attitude towards work and money. It's more about living a good life and that doesn't necessarily mean owning a fleet of cars, a 300 foot yacht and several houses.

#11 of 63 Jeff Gatie

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Posted March 10 2005 - 08:35 AM

Quote:
Compared to Europe, they have a more lax attitude towards work and money. It's more about living a good life and that doesn't necessarily mean owning a fleet of cars, a 300 foot yacht and several houses.


That's really funny. My mother has her car serviced at a shop that has an East European mechanic. She owns a 7 year old Mercury, with low mileage and she keeps it nice. The mechanic asked her if she was rich. My mother said "no, why". He replied that since she owned such a nice car, she must be rich or she works too much to try to afford nice things. My mother replied that she was not rich and her car was actually mid-range in price and it was older than most (not to mention paid for). She also said that she does work even though she is 71, but she works to afford to live, not to afford a car.

Perception is everything, I guess.

Jeff
(who works many hours a week without many vacations, but will never work for just a paycheck and will never own a fleet of cars, much less a yacht)

#12 of 63 Kenneth

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Posted March 10 2005 - 09:57 AM

Quote:
My impression is that the US is much more money-orientated than Europe and probably the rest of the world, whether it's people, businesses and the government

Well, I think Asia is right up there with us Posted Image When I was in Japan and Taiwan they had mandatory Saturday workdays and both countries started early and worked late. As to materialism, I am not sure how materialistic the Europeans are but again, I think many of the Asian countries are right up there with the US in terms of types of possessions. Cell phones were way bigger in Asia than they were in this country.

For me, I have been working the long hours too long. Although I like it when I have a reduced workday, I feel somewhat guilty when I am only working 40 hours a week (kind of like I am slacking off). But that's probably just me Posted Image

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#13 of 63 Alex-C

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Posted March 10 2005 - 10:41 AM

Balderdash...what do they know about working hard in Europe...all they do is create things like the Millau bridge (on budget and on time mind you)... :wink:
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#14 of 63 andrew markworthy

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Posted March 10 2005 - 06:35 PM

Thanks for the info on mail workers, guys, and v. glad to have been proven wrong. My remarks were based on a couple of things I'd read and clearly they were very wide of the mark.

Regarding general attitude to money, etc, I think you're absolutely right about the USA (and parts of Asia) vs. Europe divide. I should perhaps stress that we're not lazy in Europe (well, most of us anyway). I think a large part of the difference is that generally we have free (or relatively free) health care and higher education systems (though the latter is disappearing) and other welfare benefits, so a lot of the basics of life are provided by the state. I.e. there is less impetus to work extra hard for them - the general attitude is more akin to a fair day's pay for a fair day's work, and then off down the pub.

However, on top of that we do have relatively different scales of values. E.g. in the UK it's still considered very vulgar to want to talk about money. We thus have a society in which the ostentatious pursuit of money is discouraged. Plus of course the class system doesn't help matters. E.g. a report this week found that going to the 'right' school and university can add £60,000 a year to your salary. Of course the same sort of thing applies in the USA, but here it is way more entrenched.

After a while all this can create a mentality of 'what's the point' - people can start to feel that there is no real need to work very long hours because the basics are provided for and 'rising above your station in life' is seen as difficult or impossible.

This is probably a too simplistic view, but as I'm typing this just before dashing to work and I've got a filthy cold, it'll have to do. Posted Image

#15 of 63 Jason L.

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Posted March 10 2005 - 06:59 PM

From the 3/7/2005 Businessweek:

It's roughly the same story in France. The center-right government of Jean-Pierre Raffarin has been quietly but steadily moving to roll back measures once considered sacrosanct. Under legislation approved in early February, France's 35-hour workweek will be largely dismantled, with most workers getting a green light to work longer hours.


And this about Germany:

Unemployment in January hit a postwar high of 12.1%, according to non-seasonally adjusted figures.


Yikes!

http://www.businessw...23084_mz054.htm

#16 of 63 Gary->dee

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Posted March 10 2005 - 07:51 PM

Quote:
However, on top of that we do have relatively different scales of values. E.g. in the UK it's still considered very vulgar to want to talk about money. We thus have a society in which the ostentatious pursuit of money is discouraged.
Huh, that's a 180 degree difference from the US. In American it's all about money, image and fame. I don't want to generalize too much because obviously not everyone thinks the same way, but I'm pretty disgusted with the skewed perspective on priorities and life in the country where I've lived since 1978. When I first moved here I thought America was a beautiful country and when I say that I don't just mean the landscapes and my surroundings. I mean the people were friendlier, more considerate and the vibe was nicer. Then again that was the 70's. But the way it is now I don't want to live here any more. Especially not after I was given a sweet taste of Scandinavian and European life last year during a visit.

I want to go back and I have the power to do it so I will. Not just because of issues pertaining to the way America worships money but because I'm old enough to understand that the blood shed and lives lost in the form of Indians, Mexicans, Africans and other races to make this country(and in turn make money) was just plain wrong and in some form or another it continues to this day. To put it simply, I'm disgusted with the history of this country. Just like my decision to finally leave L.A., I feel if I didn't I would have destroyed myself. But I need to take it a step further and leave the country to start a new life.

#17 of 63 andrew markworthy

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Posted March 10 2005 - 10:00 PM

Quote:
Especially not after I was given a sweet taste of Scandinavian and European life last year during a visit.


It's not all wonderful, alas. Problems over how much taxation people will endure, and of course the thorny problem of ethnic integration etc are going to be major preoccupations over the next couple of decades.

Plus I suspect that the money-centredness of the USA is beginning to spread elsewhere. E.g. in the UK the gulf between rich and poor is now larger than in Victorian times. And whilst there have always been the very rich amongst us, the media these days thrust how much rich people earn, how much their houses cost, etc, down your throat. That may always have been the norm in the USA, but in the UK it's a relative novelty.

#18 of 63 Kenneth

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Posted March 10 2005 - 10:08 PM

Quote:
Huh, that's a 180 degree difference from the US. In American it's all about money, image and fame. I don't want to generalize too much because obviously not everyone thinks the same way, but I'm pretty disgusted with the skewed perspective on priorities and life in the country where I've lived since 1978.

But you just did generalize Posted Image Seriously though, there are some people in this country that are obsessive about money (same as there were some in the 70's). Most of the people I know only obsess about money from the perspective of making ends meet. As Andrew noted, in Europe there are more social benefits provided by the states (of course they pay more taxes for those benefits usually Posted Image ). The American attitudes (and some Asian attitudes) tend to be more focused on self-sufficiency, which does tend to make one more money focused since you are responsible for your own well-being (not the state).

Quote:
Not just because of issues pertaining to the way America worships money but because I'm old enough to understand that the blood shed and lives lost in the form of Indians, Mexicans, Africans and other races to make this country(and in turn make money) was just plain wrong and in some form or another it continues to this day. To put it simply, I'm disgusted with the history of this country.

This is a different issue from the money. Although racism still exists in this country (and many others) it is far better than it has been in the past. Every country has elements of their history that are less appealing. For the most part the US is pretty up front about our warts. In Japan their history books only give cursury information pertaining to Japan's role in WWII. I don't think they are likely to become a military agressor again but the fact that they downplay their role is disturbing to many (especially in Asia). Every country has warts if you choose to look for them. One advantage of the US, however, is that our agressive media makes it difficult for people to keep secrets. The US probably has one of the most open societies in the world (for good and bad).

Cheers,

Kenneth

#19 of 63 andrew markworthy

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Posted March 10 2005 - 10:17 PM

Quote:
The American attitudes (and some Asian attitudes) tend to be more focused on self-sufficiency, which does tend to make one more money focused since you are responsible for your own well-being (not the state).


True to a certain extent, but at least in the UK there is still a strong emphasis on self-sufficiency, at least amongst the middle classes. Individuals (other than those who are genuinely ill) who rely on the state for everything without making any effort to find work or resolve problems for themselves are reviled. Indeed, at the moment in the UK, the buzzword is 'chav' which refers to a lower-class layabout who relies on state handouts (possibly doing undeclared paid work) with execrable tastes and who wants someone else to resolve all their problems for them. It's an unattractive stereotype and is no more representative of working-class Brits than e.g. 'trailer trash' represents low income Americans. But it is indicative that self-sufficiency is considered desirable.

#20 of 63 Kenneth

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Posted March 10 2005 - 11:15 PM

Dang, I hate it when I forget to turn off my generality lock key Posted Image I was thinking more along the lines of state provided health and retirement benefits rather than income assistance (which is more controlled at a combination of state and federal levels in the US). It is a little more difficult to use Europe generically (since they seem to act like individual countries for some reason Posted Image ) than it is to use the United States generically (since the difference between the 50 states can be more subtle).

Cheers,

Kenneth


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