Back in the 1960s and 1970s, talk of a four-day working week was commonplace. But with the growth in working hours and work intensity during the 1980s and 1990s, even a five-day week was viewed more as a nostalgic memory than as a realistic proposition.
I’ve been arguing for some time that the tide has been turning on this issue, and the news that ETU secretary Dean Mighell http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/12/17/1071337017313.html has launched a new push for a four-day working week fits neatly into this story. Of course, Mighell is very much on the left of the union movement, and this is a personal view rather than an official ETU claim. Still, the fact that the idea is being discussed at all is significant in the same way that the kind of discussion of the “24/7 economy” popular a few years ago mattered more than the fact that the idea itself was chimerical.