The sun didn’t shine for bourgeois France in summer time 1936. Posh society ladies whined that the invading hordes of proles were taking up an excessive amount of space on their desired seashores; restaurateurs on the Côte d’Azur even worried whether or not the factory people arriving in their resorts would recognize how to use a knife and fork. In June, the Socialist-led authorities had guaranteed each employee two weeks’ paid vacation, making the summer vacation a reality for tens of millions. Now, employees ought to stop making bicycles and baguettes for a fortnight and begin constructing sandcastles — and their bosses had to pay them for it.
The law that gave employees holiday time becomes surpassed via Jewish socialist high minister Léon Blum, who has been elected that May. Yet the alternate become most of all owed to the powerful strike motion that followed his election. Across the arena, labor unions had long resisted the domination of existence by work: the overall strike that began in Chicago on May Day 1886 demanded “8 hours for paintings, 8 hours for rest, 8 hours for what we will.” After the achievement of legal limits on working hours, after which the discovery of weekends, inside the 20th century, hard work’s campaign without spending a dime time took up the combat for paid holidays.
Having first sunk roots in France, paid holiday time was quickly accomplished elsewhere, in many instances complemented via rights like ill pay and maternity depart. But the combat for vacations wasn’t just about giving workers one fortnight of freedom 12 months, only then to trudge returned to the shop floor. Driven through a new mass lifestyle, the right to enlarge the realm of entertainment was also approximately democratizing the societies in which we live. French employees now not best received the proper to holidays but built the hostels, campsites, and social golf equipment via which they may spend their time better — and spend it together.
Free time had usually been a political battleground. The early labor movement was a hive of pleasant societies and cooperatives thru which workers pooled their sources to make first-class use in their free time. From 1919, the Socialist and Communist mayors of Ivry-sur-Seine, a suburb of Paris, ran a cohesion fund to provide employees’ children with trips to the sea. Much as our bodies like the YMCA promoted types of recreation well suited with Christian values, the people’ events created amusement, sporting, and social activities in their personal — within what loose time they might locate.
In summertime 1936, it took authorities action to universalize the holiday pay formerly accomplished with the aid of a small minority of workers. But the achievement didn’t owe just to Léon Blum, or indeed to the Popular Front uniting his Socialists with the liberal Radicals and Communists. Indeed, the program the Popular Front announced before the May 1936 election was cautious — it promised to nationalize conflict industries and give greater freedom to labor unions, but its name for “a reduction inside the operating week without a discount in weekly salaries” didn’t say what discount could be made, or whilst.
The Popular Front’s election triumph on May 3, 1936 — taking 57 percent of the vote — inspired a wider temper of trade. On May 11, people occupied an aircraft factory to demand the reinstatement of two colleagues fired for striking on May Day; this caused unity motion by means of dockers, lighting fixtures the contact paper of a much wider motion. The strike spread to thousands of workplaces across France, embracing some 2 million employees. The festive environment in the occupied factories confirmed not handiest that people felt emboldened, however, that they had high expectations for what would come next.
Emboldened by means of the strike wave — but also wary of protracted social warfare — Blum sought a settlement with employers that could also satisfy the activists in the fundamental workers’ events. On June 7–eight, the Socialist most beneficial, the trade unions, and employers sealed the Matignon Agreements, which enacted a greater designated — and, indeed, greater radical — model of the Popular Front’s manifesto promises. Bosses had to swallow a forty-hour restrict at the operating week (without a loss of pay), better exchange union freedoms, and as a minimum two weeks’ paid holiday for each worker.