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France must ‘work twice as hard’ after confinement

France will “have to work twice as hard” after confinement to jumpstart the economy from a crisis worse than that “seen even in wartime”, business federation the Medef and the French junior economy minister have said.

Holidays and overtime rest days (RTT) may even need to be postponed, they said.

Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux, entrepreneur and president of entrepreneur and business network the Medef (Mouvement des Entreprises de France), told newspaper Le Figaro: “Even in wartime, we have never seen a crisis in which we had to close the economy, in almost all countries at the same time. 

“This is a brutal stoppage of the economy, to the tune of 30-40% on average...We must realise that every extra week of confinement costs the economy dear.”

Mr Roux de Bézieux’s comments come after President Emmanuel Macron announced that confinement would continue until May 11.

Read more: Macron: May 11 is start of deconfinement in France

Mr Roux de Bézieux continued: “We need to ask ourselves, sooner or later, questions about working time, days off and paid holidays in the context of rebuilding the economy and enabling - by working a bit more - the creation of extra growth.

“The most important thing is to kickstart the economic machine [as soon as possible], and to produce mass growth; to try to erase, from 2021, the loss of growth of 2020. It is the creation of wealth that will allow us to increase taxes and revenues, and repay the debt that has accumulated during this crisis.”

He called on entrepreneurs to “restart their activities” as soon as possible, while still respecting safety measures.

Le Medef has more than 750,000 member firms, of which 90% are small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with fewer than 50 employees.

Junior economy minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher has also said that “we will probably need to work more than we did before”, to “catch up” with the loss of activity caused by confinement.

She told news service FranceInfo: “The challenge will be to get back to work at full speed. This means that you cannot continue to live on credit when the economic situation is normal.

“The important thing is to give oxygen to businesses so that they can survive and make it through [this], but even behind that, we have to work twice as hard to create more collective wealth.”

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