The French lifestyle balance is once again in the crosshairs. This time the stalker is the Mouvement des Entreprises de France (MEDEF) with a controversial report aimed at reducing the number of national holidays on the French calendar.
Beyond the cliché that French workers are on holiday half the time and on strike the remaining half, the actual statistics do not seem to add up. French productivity is among the highest in the world. French workers, for example, create 20% more wealth for every hour worked* than equivalent UK workers.
Days off not only contribute to the wellbeing of the population and allow people to devote time to family, friends and the sweet pursuit of doing nothing, but they also act as an important engine to tourism, gastronomy and related leisure business sectors.
As reported by Le Figaro, the MEDEF has not identified which of the eleven French holidays they would do away with. Some camps claim that having religious holidays is not compatible with the proverbial separation of church and state. Others target January 1st as an easy holiday to suppress, others claim that the 1st of May, labour day, is not a legitimate holiday because of its origins during Vichy France.
Whichever the dates chosen, it will take a brave politician to pick up this gauntlet. The proposal is likely to grate sharply against the grain of French mentality and their predilection for partitioning their private time away from the tyranny of constraints and obligations.
What do you think? Does France need less holidays and more work? Or do the French have the right idea when they insist on taking their time off seriously?
Image: CC – Joaquín Martínez Rosado/Flickr
*Relative GDP per hour – OECD Factbook 2011