Socialist Worker

35 hour week - no loss of pay

Issue No. 1671

CAR WORKERS in Coventry have been taking French lessons! The French parliament last week approved the key stage in a law cutting hours to 35 a week with no loss of pay. Unions at Peugeot in Britain are now demanding that the French company's 6,000 workers in Coventry get the same.

'We have put the demand for a 35 hour week with no loss of pay on the table,' says TGWU union car industry negotiator Tony Woodley. Coventry Peugeot workers are now on a 39 hour week. Woodley warned, 'The issue is not whether the company is going to cut working hours, but when it is going to do it. The time when British workers worked more for lower pay than their European equivalents is coming to an end.' Workers should demand Woodley backs up such talk with a serious campaign to win French hours in Coventry.

Peugeot is just one of a vast array of top French companies with major operations in Britain. Some of the major companies involved are:

  • Nissan. The giant car firm is owned by the French firm Renault. Its 4,500 workers near Sunderland are in the AEEU union and now have a 39 hour week.

  • Cap Gemini. This is the French company behind many of the call centres springing up across Britain. Its workers in France were on strike last week demanding no strings with the cut to 35 hours a week.

  • London Electricity, owned by the French state-owned EDF.

  • Rhone Poulenc Rorer has plants here, including a major operation near Ford's Dagenham complex.

  • Valeo, Lignotock, Hutchinson and Bertrand Faure are major car components firms.

  • Alsthom has a major site near Rugby and several smaller ones.

  • Air France has a massive operation at Heathrow.

  • Other companies are tyre company Michelin, electrical engineers Schneider, Carnaud-Metal Box, Alcatel, ABN Amro, and insurance company Axa.

    Unions and activists in Britain should be taking up the demand for 35 hours with no loss of pay in all these workplaces.

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    Article information

    Sat 6 Nov 1999, 00:00 GMT
    Issue No. 1671
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