Later this month the CMKOS trade union confederation will be debating the prospect of a major initiative on working time, with a proposal to go for a half-hour cut in the standard working day without loss of pay. Unions believe that they are in a good position to make this a key bargaining issue in 2019 with a positive economic outlook and very low unemployment. The cut would mean moving from a standard 42.5-hour working week to 37.5 hours with a 30-minute break.
Unions aim to put shorter working week on bargaining agenda
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(April 2017) Trade unions have negotiated a one-hour cut to the working week without loss of pay. The standard working week will now be 42 hours although there is a prospect for a further cut to 41.5 hours in upcoming negotiations in the public sector. The initiative recognises that standard working hours are longer than most countries and action is needed to improve work-life balance.
Unions in the UK and Ireland are both making moves towards a four-day week campaign with the TUC's initiative in the UK gaining momentum with support from the Labour Party. The TUC's conference last year put a four-day week on the agenda and last week's Labour Party conference set out the 10-year objective of a 32-hour week without loss of pay. Meanwhile public services union Forsa was the first Irish union to back a new coalition of businesses, environmental and other campaigning organisations to support a Four Day Week Ireland campaign for working time reduction.
The GPA private services union is calling for the adoption of a four-day week across its sectors and will raise this in the upcoming autumn bargaining round. Noting the success of the four-day week in Iceland and the establishment of the right to a four-day week in the retail sector in Austria, the GPA argues that the employers need to see the positive impact on productivity, while workers will get the benefit of better work-life balance. The union also underlines the potential for the four-day week to impact on climate change through its effect on commuting patterns.