The Trades Union Congress (TUC), an umbrella group representing the UK’s workers, wants the government to back a four day working week. It believes this proposal is a “realistic ambition for the 21st century”. The TUC has claimed the policy would force businesses to share the benefits of technological advances.
The TUC took to Twitter to announce the move:
When workers were asked their preferred working week, most picked four days. If the 20th century brought us the weekend, a 4-day week is plausible for the 21st. New technology must make work better, not worse. https://t.co/Dg67qfx7I5 #TUC150 pic.twitter.com/OEbBOzEBv9
— TradesUnionCongress (@The_TUC) September 10, 2018
Moreover, general sectary of the TUC Frances O’Grady has claimed that the advancement in technology and communication also causes work intensification. The TUC reported that its members were concerned about work-related stress due to technology being used by their employers. Employees felt that communication technology blurred the lines between work and private time. Moreover, employers can monitor and assess work performance remotely through software or other forms of technology.
Frances O’Grady’s speech
As reported by BBC News, O’Grady’s speech centred around “higher wages [and] less time at work”:
"I believe that in this century we can win a four-day-working-week with decent pay for everyone," says TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady at #TUC150 https://t.co/4ixWy1WaSR pic.twitter.com/obs9YBH6rL
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) September 10, 2018
The Huffington Post reported that O’Grady was to say in her key note speech:
In the nineteenth century, unions campaigned for an eight-hour day. In the twentieth century, we won the right to a two-day weekend and paid holidays. So, for the twenty-first century, let’s lift our ambition again. I believe that in this century we can win a four-day working week, with decent pay for everyone.
O’Grady drew on Amazon as an example in her speech, due to its extensive use of technology to drive profit:
It’s time to share the wealth and stop the greed. Take Jeff Bezos. He runs Amazon – now a trillion dollar company. He’s the richest man in the world. He’s racking up the billions. But his workers are collapsing on the job
Green Party and the four day week
The Green Party backed a four day week in its 2017 manifesto. It committed to working towards “a green economy that works for everyone” which included phasing in a four day working week. The Green Party also suggested introducing a Universal Basic Income and increasing the Living Wage to £10 an hour by 2020.
Newly re-elected co-leader of the Green Party Jonathan Bartley expressed his delight at the TUC backing a four day week:
— Jonathan Bartley (@jon_bartley) September 10, 2018
Caroline Lucas, previous co-leader and Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, also took to Twitter to share her enthusiasm:
More than four in five employees want to reduce their working hours – and we can make it happen. There's more to life than work.https://t.co/AIw0HAUgAt
— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) September 10, 2018
However, a self-employed business owner responded positively:
As a self employed business owner, I have to work 7 days a week just to survive. But I fully support a 4 day week for employees. As long as they are paid and supported well.
— Ood Bloke (@oodbloke) September 10, 2018
One voter made a valid case for wellbeing and our place in the “machine”:
I love this outlook. You are so right. We aren't born to become part of a machine to be used by those controlling it.
— Elvis Maldives (@Cadgelicious) September 10, 2018
The pressure group 4 Day Week Campaign felt Lucas added a “great point” to the debate:
Great point! So great to see the TUC follow the Greens and support a campaign for shorter hours.
— 4 Day Week Campaign (@4Day_Week) September 10, 2018
George Aylett, founder of Labour Basic Income, also backed the announcement from the TUC:
Bold and welcome move from @The_TUC regarding a four day week.
Some firms that have adopted a four day working week have reported higher productivity, a more committed workforce and healthier employees.
More firms should consider trials to see if this is successful. https://t.co/fvGJBD5Z94
— George Aylett (@GeorgeAylett) September 10, 2018
And Executive Editor at the Independent, Will Gore, backed the idea despite being “no Corbynista”:
— Independent Voices (@IndyVoices) September 10, 2018
This Green Party policy is picking up momentum after the TUC put its weight behind it. In a world of work dominated by capitalism, the onus is on all parties of the left to get behind this ground-breaking proposal.
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Featured image via: Trades Union Congress (TUC)/YouTube