21 October 2017
Matt White

Matt White

Matt White - Finextra

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Are the French lazy?

24 May 2007  |  5238 views  |  2

Talking to Diebold CEO Tom Swidarski at the company's Emea Expo this week I was a little taken aback by his blunt answer to my question about last years closure of the ATM vendor's manufacturing plant in Cassis, France.

Not for Tom the usual waffle about restructuring, he was quite clear about the reasoning behind the decision, despite union threats of legal action, to move to Budapest.

Apparently the French just weren’t up to the job. After seven years in Cassis the company got fed up with throwing away money on training staff who were inefficient if not downright lazy.

It appears that the notorious power of the country’s unions and the level of protection the state provides employees has made some a little complacent.

So will M. Sarkozy deliver on his promise to make France a more economically liberal place and change employment law? Will he really scrap the 35 hour week?

Without reform France will continue to suffer. Diebold moving to a cheaper location with hungrier workers is one of many examples of the malaise afflicting the country. The young professional classes are flocking to London to find work and this brain drain will have serious ramifications if it is not stemmed.

I’ve always admired the refusal of the French to let work get in the way of life but it looks as though, with Sarkozy's election, they have finally decided the party must end.

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Comments: (3)

Olivier Berthier
Olivier Berthier - Moneythor - Singapore | 24 May, 2007, 17:29

Oh my golly, a troll on a Finextra blog. To react or not to react to such an outrageous generalisation, that is the question...

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Peter Roberts
Peter Roberts - UCL - London | 24 May, 2007, 21:46

I always hoped the 35 hour week would pay dividends. We work stupidly long hours in the UK - the damage this was doing was pointed out years ago although now it's become a case of exploitation.

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Matt White
Matt White - Finextra - Toronto | 25 May, 2007, 09:01

I confess that the tone was a little controversial.

I don't think that all French people are lazy. What I do think is that, due to government policy rather than inate characteristics, there is a difference in attitude between workers in France and the UK.

But my argument seems to be completely demolished by statistics that show that the UK's productivity performance, on a (GDP) per worker basis, is lower than France's.

Like Peter I tend to agree that in the UK we work far too hard and that France may well have a better balance.

However, the election of Sarkozy (whose politics I completely disagree with) does seem to indicate that many in France believe that things need to change.


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