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French main employers association calls for cut in number of holidays

French employer's body MEDEF union leader Pierre Gattaz (C), File August 2014.
French employer's body MEDEF union leader Pierre Gattaz (C), File August 2014. Reuters/Benoit Tessier

Cutting the number of public holidays, increasing the length of the working week, dropping the minimum wage, these are among the ideas the French employers federation, Medef, raised on Monday in proposals to boost employment.

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"I call that provocation" said Laurent Berger, the boss of the CFDT centrist union, insisting that such changes would be " out of the question".

Sunday working, public holidays and changing entitlements are subjects which remain taboo for many French workers.

In a document published in the economic daily Les Echos on Monday, the Medef said that getting rid of two out of 11 public holiday would allow 100,000 jobs to be created. The federation also recommended allowing retailers to open on Sundays and later in the evenings. 

"After working on Sunday and increasing the legal working week, what's the next step going to be? Making children work? said the leader of the hardline Force Ouvrière trade union, Jean-Claude Mailly.

The government eased labour-market rules earlier this year in a controversial "Responsability Pact" which has had no impact as yet on the second biggest economy of the eurozone, in terms of employment.

In the so called "Responsability Pact", the government would cut taxes on businesses and in return the companies would try to create jobs.

Medef has stirred controversy with its new proposals just as Prime Minister Manuel Valls is defending the government's reform plans in a vote of confidence this Tuesday.

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