The French are making a conscious decision to descend into laziness and a third world economy.

With more than 50,000 taking to the streets in provincial cities, organisers said they hoped for a national turnout of at least 300,000 nationwide to ram home their message.

“The government would do well not only to hear but to listen to the workers,” said the secretary-general of the CGT union, Bernard Thibault, at the start of the rally in Paris.

The protests come as parliament debates a government plan to allow staff in the private sector to increase overtime and work up to 48 hours a week, the maximum allowed under EU law. But managers must first agree the changes with unions.

France has always had higher unemployment than most of the developed world. The thirty-five hour week, concocted by the Socialists, was designed to get more people employed. It did not have the intended effect. Instead, global employers packed up and got out of France. 77% of the French, however, still want to work less than anyone else. Well, have at it.