The TUC is now backing the Green Party’s plans for a four day week

Frances O'Grady addressing the TUC conference 2018
Brian Finlay

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:

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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”:

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

The TUC is not alone in its desire for a four day week. The Green Party also backs a four day week for workers to help improve employee wellbeing and prioritise their personal lives.

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:

Caroline Lucas, previous co-leader and Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, also took to Twitter to share her enthusiasm:

The Reaction

Twitter showed mixed opinions on the proposal for the four day week. Similar to discussions around the Universal Basic Income, it was met by some with ‘pie-in-the-sky’ cynicism and scepticism.

However, a self-employed business owner responded positively:

https://twitter.com/oodbloke/status/1039098798927228929

One voter made a valid case for wellbeing and our place in the “machine”:

https://twitter.com/Cadgelicious/status/1039103958760017926

The pressure group 4 Day Week Campaign felt Lucas added a “great point” to the debate:

George Aylett, founder of Labour Basic Income, also backed the announcement from the TUC:

And Executive Editor at the Independent, Will Gore, backed the idea despite being “no Corbynista”:

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.

Get Involved!

– Appreciate the work we do at The Canary? Please consider supporting us.

– Agree with the TUC? Consider joining a union.

– Support the idea of a 4 day working week? Follow 4 day week campaign on Twitter.

Featured image via: Trades Union Congress (TUC)/YouTube

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Brian Finlay