The Chinese Don't Understand Why the French Don't Like to Work

As the saying goes, hard work never killed anybody, but the French aren't taking any chances*. The country's left-leaning government is famous for instituting a controversial 35-hour workweek and a ban on stores from opening on Sundays. (*kidding - no hate mail, please!)

There is one segment of the French population who's perplexed at the notion that working less is good for you: the Chinese immigrants, who are taking over France's "bar tabac" (basically a small pub/shop selling tobacco and other small items) businesses through hard work.

"As I see it, when you work, you're paid. So why stop at 35 hours?" Zhang Chang, owner of Cafe Le Marais in central Paris, said to Reuters. "We the Chinese think all the unemployment is because people can't work enough," added Xiao, a restaurant owner nearby.

Native French bar-tabac owners are being outcompeted left and right. Patric Loubiere, who runs a bar-tabac that his parents started a generation ago lamented, "I'm the only one left. The younger generation doesn't want to do it. It's too early in the morning for some, too late at night for others. They're getting lazy."

But not everyone admires the Chinese immigrants' work ethics. French authorities pointed to a report that shows while some entrepreneurs are enjoying economic success, many immigrants are actually being exploited - they're forced to work long hours for little pay in restaurants and sweatshops. Some accuse Chinese bar-tabac owners of not paying taxes.

According to Reuters, conservative magazine Le Pointe published an article asking "How the devil do they do it?" and answered it with these "five commandments":

1) work 80 hours a week 2) sleep in your shop 3) don't pay your employees as they are family members 4) don't contribute to the system and 5) don't pay taxes.

Do the conservatives have a valid point here? Or are the Chinese beating the French by working harder? What do you think?

Alexandria Sage and Nicholas Vinocur has the full story over at Reuters. (Photo: Philippe Wojazer/Reuters)


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I don't know if we're speaking about generation Y Z or else, but definitely the young French ones are more about benefits and life after work than career people.
My recruitments are getting harder and harder in a more than 10% jobless country :S
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When I had a restaurant in China, I used to live in it. Why pay rent on two places when I can only occupy one at a time?
But I DID pay the taxes and my employees. (Wish I'd had some relatives who would work for free.)
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"As I see it, when you work, you're paid. So why stop at 35 hours?"

This makes sense to me. If I was limited to 35 hours a week, I wouldn't be able to work at Neatorama. Instead, I earn more money.
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And when you increase the work week from 35 to 70 hours a week, you'll need only half as many workers! What could possibly go wrong?

Then again, there is the view that keeping the work week at 40 hours or more drives the economy: "Keeping free time scarce means people pay a lot more for convenience, gratification, and any other relief they can buy." Doesn't explain everything, but it certainly seems to be part of the mix in our mixed-up society.
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It happens in the U.S. too. Businesses run by immigrants employ family or other immigrants for little to no money, don't pay most taxes, work for cash, illegally live in their businesses, etc.
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