TEN YEARS after the first journée de solidarité in France, this year’s day of “unpaid work” is expected to raise €2.46bn.
In 2004 France instituted the journée de solidarité after a heatwave the previous year killed 15,000 people.
The Monday after Pentacost, which was a holiday, became a day where people worked and their business donates a day’s pay to the aged or handicapped.
Since 2004 it has raised €23.5bn, which has been channelled to improving care to elderly and handicapped people across the country.
But the law changed in 2008, meaning companies have been able to decide whether to work, or take the day off and donate a day’s holiday pay, or to carry out their own journée de solidarité on another bank holiday.
Although some shops are open, many other large businesses and government offices are closed.
According to recruitment network the Randstad Group, between 20% and 30% of all employees in France are working today.
This day continues to be debated. The CFTC, for whom “any work deserves payment,” has written to employment minister François Rebsamen, asking him to put an end to the “injustice” that people should be made to work by their employers “under the guise of a false solidarity”.