Industryweek 9675 Smart Car 2

Automaker Smart Fails to Get Deal Increasing Working Hours

Oct. 28, 2015
Most laborers opposed the plan to increase working hours to 39 from 35, while white collar staff were in favor of the deal.

METZ, FRANCE -Smart, the small car unit of Daimler, has failed in its attempts to get workers in eastern France to work longer hours in exchange for employment guarantees.

The company's management said Wednesday that two of four labor unions had signed a pact that would have raised working hours to 39 from France's normal work week of 35 hours and guaranteed jobs at the Hambach factory until 2020.

However, the other two labor unions which represent a majority of employees signaled they would veto the deal, which would have paid workers for only 37 of the 39 hours they worked, and cut days off for white collar staff.

"It's over," said Didier Getrey, a representative of the CFDT union at the factory.

A non-binding referendum on the deal among staff saw a narrow majority vote in favor, but revealed that most laborers opposed the plan while white collar staff were in favor.

France's government in recent years has worked to give companies more flexibility on working hours and conditions to increase the country's competitiveness and attractiveness, even if the 35 hour work week still remains the legal norm.

Smart's France factory produces some 100,000 of the company's two-seater model per year.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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