Manufacturing in France
About one person in four in the French work force has a job helping to make something. Some work in small workshops that may employ just half a dozen people. These people produce handmade items such as clothing, pottery, furniture, jewellery and such specialty food products as wine, cheese, sausage and foie gros (fwo grah'), or goose liver.
Most people in manufacturing work in large factories. The 1400 most important factories in France each employ more than 1000 people. Together these large factories produce half of all the goods made in France.
Products such as cars, tires, textiles, metals and construction materials are made in these factories. Many are put together on an assembly line, where each worker performs one task in the process of making something. .
France also has many medium-sized factories, which may pro- I duce anything from clothing to wine to cheese to china. Many ~ large and medium-sized factories are owned by the government. Almost all French factories are in urban areas. Many are in the Paris region, and others are clustered around Lyon and Marseille. Most are in the eastern half of France.
. Why do you think that most factories are in urban areas?
Most factory workers and their families live in housing developments or in apartments in the older parts of the city. They often eat lunch and take their short breaks in a canteen supplied by the employer. The government guarantees the workers five weeks of holidays a year, a minimum wage, health insurance, old-age pensions and educational leave.
Only about one in five workers in France belongs to a union. French workers go out on strike much less often than workers in Canada and do not have as much control over their working conditions.
On the Assembly Line
A worker describes what it is like to work on the assembly line at a Citroen plant, putting together cars. Although he refers only to a male worker, many women also work on the assembly line.
"As soon as a car enters a man's territory, he takes down his blowtorch, grabs his soldering iron, takes his hammer or file and 1 gets to work. A few knocks, a few sparks, then the soldering's done and the car's already on its way out. . . . And the next car's already coming into the work area. And the worker starts again. Sometimes, if he's been working fast, he has a few seconds' respite before the next car arrives: either he takes advantage of it to breathe for a moment or he works further ahead."