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Minister defends May bank holidays

Days off are not a cost to the economy but a benefit that allows people to return to work refreshed

LABOUR Minister Michel Sapin says he has no plans to call for the end of the series of May bank holidays – four this month – and says that rather than being a cost to the economy they allow people to return to work refreshed.

Speaking on Europe 1 he said he planned to enjoy a few days’ off and the holidays made for a way to “work better”.

Figures from national statistics body Insee said France’s bank holidays will cost the economy nearly €2billion in 2013; which was the equivalent of 0.1% growth in a year where there was next to none.

But Sapin said that this “was not new; we have the impression that everything has a cost but it is only taking a break so we can start again afresh. We need to put the figures in context: it’s the same figures as last May and the same as next May...

“And then, acting on that, which do we get rid of? May 1, May 8, May 9? See what you get if you try that! Be reasonable, this does not stop us from rebuilding our strength to work harder afterwards.”

Told that a poll had shown that one person in two was prepared to give up bank holidays to help the country’s economic situation, he said, smiling: “I think that they would prefer if their neighbour gives up their bank holidays...”

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