The Chinese Don't Understand Why The French Won't Work Hard Enough
Oct 22, 2013 13:55
Chinese immigrants in Paris are determined to keep working despite the French government's Sunday-trading law dispute.
Bar owner Zhang Chang says he has little time to follow such debates because he's too busy working. French workers worry the country's long economy downturn could mean the end of laws banning Sunday trading and enforcing a 35-hour week, but Zhang and Chinese immigrants like him are doing it the old-fashioned way: 11 hours a day, six days a week.
"As I see it, when you work, you're paid. So why stop at 35 hours?" he asks, perplexed by France's landmark law which cut four hours off the statutory working week in the late 1990s.
President Francois Hollande is unwilling to raise the unions' ire, and has so far defended the ban on Sunday trading, despite a reform this year that eased some rigidity in labor rules. He has sidestepped the issue of the 35-hour work week.
But while the debate continues, the Chinese are going strong.
"We the Chinese think all the unemployment is because people can't work enough," said Xiao, a restaurant owner dishes out Wenzhou specialties such as chewy stir-fried rice cake and beef hot pot to young Paris professionals.
She adds that even the dining habits of the French show their laid back attitude. "I have people who linger for three hours after they're done eating. It drives me crazy!"
According to Reuters:
The takeover has irritated some locals who say it's easier to find bok choy than baguettes in some areas, and protest the reluctance of some Chinese bar-tabac owners to serve French food along with beer and cigarettes.
Right-leaning magazine Le Point picked up on this feeling in a recent article about Chinese entrepreneurs which asked "How the devil do they do it?" then listed "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.
But it's the immigrants further down the ladder who are often the ones really struggling. Recent arrivals from northeast China, who lack family in France, are looked down upon by those from Wenzhou and get by as nannies, cooks, delivery men and manicurists. In fact, many women struggling to support their family turn to prostitution to repay the cost of being smuggled into the country - often more than 12,000 euros - police say.
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