These are very much the dog days of August – even in our temperate British island in the North Sea the evenings are long and warmish – punctuated by the odd thunderstorm admittedly – but Europe and the Western World are very much in holiday mode.

That’s pretty much evident as politicians are hauled back from the beaches to attend the ever-looming economic turbulence – or blithely insist they continue to run country X or Y from their Tuscan villas even as the stock markets numbers start to turn ominously red.

I’ve been trying – with a speculator lack of success – to contact one company in France in particular that – according to its ever-vigilant union – announced breathtaking plans to impose swingeing salary cuts of 15% in order to bring its new foundry into line with wages at its other plants.

The CFE-CGC union has highlighted its claim the Fonderie du Poitou Aluminium – producing mainly engine cylinder heads for Renault, BMW, Citroen and Peugeot among others – announced its apparent staggering salary slash “en plein ete” or at the height of summer – the clear inference being bad news was being quietly put out as the sun cream lotion was going on.

It appears – and I’ve only got the union to vouch for this – that management at the Vienne plant some three hours South West of Paris – are offering the deal in exchange for a cut in weekly hours from 39h to 35h.

Does a monthly drop of 16h equal 15%? I have no idea of local wages but the mere mention of the number 35 is bound to stiffen the sinews of any working Frenchman.

In 1998, as France buckled under enormous unemployment rates, the government implemented its infamous ‘Loi Aubry’ designed to address soaring ranks of non-workers and their exponentially-rising benefits.

It has to be said the measure has had some success but ask any middle-ranking French manager – and I lived and worked in France – if he works the 35h and he will almost certainly roll his eyes theatrically.

Much in the way of the smoking ban (I was once on an Air France flight where smoke from the zone fumeurs simply rolled back down the cabin in an enormous wave), the 35h seems to be a fairly flexible way of operating.

I’ve tried to clarify the situation many times with the Fonderie du Poitou Aluminium but apart from some chats with the helpful CFE-CGC union representative, I’ve not been able raise management at all.

That goes for pretty much every other French company I have been attempting to contact so far in August – it seems the French are resolutely wedded to their – probably French – holiday and that’s that until la rentree when invariably unions warn of an automne chaud or hot autumn as the suntans fade and industrial muscles are flexed.

What’s going on in Poitou is a serious business, but as the Sirius canine star appears at this time of year in the same part of the sky as the sun, the long dog days of August will have to run their course until we can glean any further detail about what’s going on at the Vienne foundry.