Europe Must Adopt Four-Day Working Week, Politicians Say
A four-day working week with no loss of pay will help economies across the world recover from the coronavirus pandemic, a coalition of international politicians, trade union leaders and campaigners have said.
In an open letter to world leaders – including UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and US President-elect Joe Biden – the coalition said a shorter working week has proved effective throughout history in times of crisis.
The letter has been signed by Labour MPs John McDonnell and Clive Lewis, as well as the members of 4-Day Week Campaigns in the UK, Ireland and the US.
They put forward the argument that a four-day week would be a way of ‘sharing work more equally across the economy between the unemployed and over-employed’.
The group said:
For the advancement of civilisation and the good society, now is the moment to seize the opportunity and move towards shorter working hours with no loss of pay. We need to get economies working to improve people’s lives, rather than people simply working to improve the economy.
The coalition that sent the letter also includes Katja Kipping, the chair of Die Linke party in Germany; Íñigo Errejón, an MP in Spain’s Más País party; Green Party MP Caroline Lucas; and Len McCluskey, general secretary of the Unite union, as per The Guardian.
The coalition said the pandemic had also increased the need for a better work-life balance.
Following the Great Depression in the 1930s, an eight-hour day and the weekend was introduced to working life. For most people, their working life still looks the same, despite ‘huge technical advances and automations’, the group said.
Additionally, they said a shorter working week could boost mental health as well as help tackle climate change by bringing down carbon emissions.
The letter said:
We stand at a critical moment in time, amidst political, economic and environmental crises. Our world would be immeasurably better, fairer and happier with more free time and we urge you to seize the moment.
New Zealand’s Jacinda Arden has previously spoken in favour of a four-day working week, and both the Scottish and Welsh governments have set up commissions to explore the proposal.
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