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Nice Work If You Can Get It

Stressful five-hour week? You must be a French civil servant

THEY are incompetent and lazy, whiling away their days by the coffee machine when they are not falsifying sick notes.
Nepotism is rife and taxpayers' money is wasted - that, at least, is how France's sprawling civil service is depicted by an insider who wrote a book about her experience of working five hours a week for a salary of 36,000 euros ($52,700) a year.
As a result, the 32-year-old woman faces a disciplinary committee with the power to recommend her dismissal for lifting the lid on the wastefulness of France's public sector, which employs 5.3 million people at an annual average cost of 40,000 euros each.
Zoe Shepard - her nom de plume - was suspended two months ago after her superiors in Aquitaine Regional Council in southwest France identified her as the author of Absolument debordee (Absolutely Snowed Under).

How lucky we are that it isn't like that over here! Though it would probably be better if they did do nothing as their activity is a drain on the rest of us.


A French army officer I know once told me a good joke making the rounds of the barracks when the 35-hour work week was first proposed:

Q: Why are all the civil servants upset about the 35-hour week?

A: They don't think it's fair that they now have to work an extra five hours.



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