back on the major reforms

April 1919. The eight-hour day

Present at the start of the century, workers’ demands for the eight-hour day came to fruition after the First World War. Already at the time, the CGT opposed employers. The trade unionists argue that the development of female work during the war makes better sharing of working time compulsory. For the bosses, the reconstruction effort requires on the contrary a stronger mobilization.

→ READ. “In 1919, the end of the war weighs in favor of the reduction of working hours”

June 1936. The 40-hour week

In the wake of the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Popular Front of Léon Blum reduced the weekly working time from 48 to 40 hours and granted 15 days of paid vacation to the workers. But the Second World War broke out and, after the Liberation, the easier use of overtime buried the rule, which did not return until 1982, with François Mitterrand’s 39-hour week.

→ READ. Working time: the return of the eternal debate

June 1998 and January 2000. The 35 hours

In the midst of cohabitation, the socialist minister Martine Aubry passed two laws to reduce the weekly working time from 39 to 35 hours. Twenty years later, the assessment of this measure in terms of job creation continues to be called into question. Above all, more than a dozen texts have been adopted by successive governments to amend the 35 hours.

August 2007. “Work more to earn more”

As of 2003, the Fillon laws increased the quota of overtime hours and allowed the return to a 39-hour week. The rupture was consummated in 2007, with the election of Nicolas Sarkozy and his slogan “work more to earn more”. The Fillon government then exonerates overtime charges, which cost no more than “normal” hours.

→ READ. The think tank Institut Montaigne recommends increasing working hours


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