Strasbourg, 19 September 1996 (RFE/RL) - The Parliament of the European Union yesterday urged the group's 15 member states to reduce working hours throughout the Union to create jobs.
By a large majority (300 to 56, with 19 abstentions), the European Union largely endorsed a draft resolution prepared by Socialist member Michel Rocard, a former French prime minister. The current overall rate of unemployment in the EU is more than 10 percent.
Rocard argued that a systematic reduction of working hours, achieved through agreements among employers and employees, will lead to the creation of extra jobs through a better distribution of existing work. He said that the extra jobs created would mean savings of hundreds of millions of dollars in government benefits now paid out across the EU.
Critics of Rocard's ideas, which recently have been endorsed by France's current conservative government, call them naive and misleading. The critics say that reducing working hours would simply create more part-time work, most of which would go to low-income women who need full-time jobs.