Jack Sargeant Column: “What have we got to lose from a shorter working week trial in the UK?”
Alyn and Deeside MS Jack Sargeant writes a regular column on Deeside.com, this week its about a shorter working week…
There have been many news stories in the headlines over the last few weeks going, so you may have if you missed a news story last week coming out of Iceland.
The northern country carried out a trial of a shorter working week and it was as the headline put it “an overwhelming success.”
I have been interested in a shorter working week for a while and followed with interest the negotiations last year at Airbus where Unite the union members backed a shorter working week to save jobs.
The Iceland experiment was not carried out in an emergency and did not involve a pay cut.
So, what was the trial about?
The trial, in which workers were paid the same amount for shorter hours, took place between 2015 and 2019.
Researchers have shown that Productivity remained the same or in some cases actually improved.
The trials run by Reykjavík City Council and the national government involved 2,500 workers, which amounts roughly 1% of Iceland’s working population.
A variety of workplaces took part, including preschools, offices, social service providers, and hospitals.
Following the trials, unions began to renegotiate working patterns, and now 86% of Iceland’s workforce have either moved to shorter hours for the same pay, or will gain the right to, the researchers said.
Workers reported feeling less stressed and at risk of burnout and said their health and work-life balance had improved immensely.
I know some of you will read this and immediately jump to the conclusion that it is impossible; how could we possibly work less and produce more. The evidence of Iceland says otherwise and following what has happened their trials are taking place across the world including Spain and New Zealand.
Resistance to change is not new. When paid holidays were introduced for the first time in 1938 many said it would be a complete disaster. Paid holidays were the result of a 25-year campaign from Trade Unions and Labour movement activists.
When they were first suggested many on the other side said it would bankrupt the economy, sixty years later similar voices proclaimed the same about the minimum wage.
So, I say let’s accept that positive changes can be made without damaging business or productivity, and in the case of a shorter working week can benefit both.
My job before I came to the Senedd was to manage change as an engineer. The best way to manage any change is to bring people with you. That is why it is important to me to start a debate and conversation.
The question I would pose to you is. What have we got to lose from a shorter working week trial in the UK? Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com