Posted: Wed 22nd Sep 2021

Welsh Parliament: Calls four-day working week pilot to be adopted in Wales

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Sep 22nd, 2021

Politicians will call on Welsh Government to adopt a four-day working week pilot in Wales during a debate in the Welsh parliament today.

Plaid Cymru has called for a “radical new approach” to the way we work, which would increase workers’ free time, while at the same time future proof the Welsh economy.

A four-day working week pilot has already been trialled in Iceland, where it was deemed an “overwhelming success”.

Meanwhile, trials are being planned in Scotland, Spain and Ireland.

In his Deeside.com column, Alyn and Deeside MS outlined the benefits of a shorter working week.

He’s 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.” He said.

But as the Labour MS pointed out, “the Iceland experiment was not carried out in an emergency and did not involve a pay cut.”

The Iceland 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.

Luke Fletcher MS, Plaid Cymru’s economy spokesperson has said that radical thinking is needed for a “post-pandemic, pre-automation revolution and Wales could lead the way.”

He says: “A four day week would have four-fold benefits: It’s good for well-being, it’s good for the economy, it’s good for the environment and it’s good for our communities.”

“COVID-19 has changed our work practices and shone a light on the inequalities in our society, not least that the burden of unpaid work falls most heavily on women.”

“Freeing up an extra non-working day could help shift the balance, and also creates the opportunities for people to engage more in their local communities. Perhaps equally compelling is it would instantly reduce our carbon footprint, from one less day spent commuting to work.”

“Ever lurking in the background is the dual threat and promise of automation – the chance to free workers from the grind of long hours, set against the fear of mass redundancies as people are replaced by machines.”

“A four day working week could future proof the Welsh economy, as long as the productivity gains from advances in automation, and the time saved by workers, is shared across our society.”

“If we are to future-proof the Welsh economy, we need innovative and forward thinking policy solutions, and Plaid Cymru’s proposal for a four day week could see Wales lead the world in a cultural paradigm shift that could bring benefits to all.”

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