Do you believe this ‘four-day working week to create half a million jobs’ bunkum?

Last Updated: September 1, 2020By Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Commuters: to many of them, the idea of a four-day working week may seem highly attractive – but not on these ‘castle in the air’ terms.

Someone’s trying to lead us up the garden path:

The public sector should switch to a four-day week to create 500,000 jobs and help ease a predicted spike in unemployment following the coronavirus outbreak, according to a report.

The Autonomy think tank said “the time has come” for a shorter working week as the end of the government’s furlough scheme in October is expected to cause an unemployment crisis.

Research by the thinktank suggests public sector workers could move to a 32-hour week without any loss in wages at a cost of up to £9bn a year.

This figure, according to Autonomy, represents 6 per cent of the public sector salary bill and costs the same amount as the furlough employment scheme brought in to save jobs during the peak of the pandemic.

Who says any government is going to give public sector workers a cut in their working hours while keeping their wages the same (that’s a massive real-terms raise) – especially a Tory government? They imposed a public sector pay freeze for years!

And the claim that it would cost up to £9 billion a year – the same as Rishi Sunak’s furlough scheme – is just more evidence that it wouldn’t work. Sunak is scrapping the furlough scheme on grounds that it is too expensive to continue indefinitely.

Not realistic.

Source: Four-day working week in public sector could create 500,000 jobs, says thinktank report | The Independent | Independent

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  1. Peter Bolton September 1, 2020 at 9:09 pm - Reply

    Very seldom that I disagree with you, Mike. But on this one I think you’ve got it wrong. Moving to a four-day work week is the type of thing the left should be getting behind. Of course, the Tories can’t be trusted to do it in a way that would benefit workers, but that fight can be had after the fact.

    Anyway, I was glad to have the opportunity to disagree with you for a change. Keep up the good work!

    • Mike Sivier September 1, 2020 at 9:53 pm - Reply

      I don’t disagree with the idea; I think that the Tories will never support it. So it seems we’re actually more in agreement than disagreement!

  2. kateuk September 1, 2020 at 10:31 pm - Reply

    Who says it would create more jobs? In places where it’s been trialled (Sweden?) people have been found to be more productive when doing less hours (less tired and stressed). Therefore companies would expect the same amount of work from people that they were doing in a 5 day week. So where would the extra jobs come from?
    Before I retired I asked my company if I could change to a 4 day week – the company agreed to a 20% reduction of my working time along with a 20% reduction in my wages. They didn’t get me any help and I was pretty much doing the same amount of work as I’d been doing before but for less money!

  3. The Toffee (597) September 2, 2020 at 7:37 am - Reply

    Wasn’t John McDonnell roundly derided when he suggested a four day working week last year?

    And they call themselves ‘Autonomy’???

  4. Growing Flame September 2, 2020 at 7:47 am - Reply

    I support the idea of a shorter working week as well. But we should make sure it applies to ALL sectors or else the Daily Mail etc will have a field day dividing the workers in the private sector from those in the public sector over their different conditions.

    Anyway, we should also be campaigning for all the money that the ten-year Tory government has taken from local Councils is restored and returned so that, again, local authorities can go back to having full complements of Librarians, street cleaners, Enforcement Officers in the Planning Depts so derelict houses can be compulsorily purchased, more factory inspectors who actually go to workplaces and check on conditions and wages to prevent a sweatshop economy, rent control Officers to protect private renters, local Police stations returned (WITH enough police and civilian staff!).
    This would absorb a large number of newly unemployed people even before shorter working weeks kick in.

    Of course, the Tories won’t support this. But that means that these sensible proposals can be claimed as exclusively Labour policies.

    It just needs a Labour Party led by people with commitment, imagination and a determination to change things for the better. Words like “hold”, “, “breath” ,”your” and “don’t”, come to mind.

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