Turning tide

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.

7 thoughts on “Turning tide

  1. Hmm here’s a question, would we still have a 5 day working week, but only 4/5ths of the work force would be working on any given day, or would Monday or Friday be struck out as a working day? Which would be more economically wiser?

  2. in my mind…im already there…

    the whole workforce should pick a day…otherwise you really lose two days, because the subset of days the entire workforce is only three days.

    then of course you still have people working retail etcetera, all the time, and the full-timers have an extra day to shop.

  3. I agree that there’s something crazy about the workaholic culture. Isn’t technology supposed to be saving us from this?

    However, I’m not convinced it should be enforced by law. It’s difficult to think of an effective way of turning this around without damaging the economy.

  4. Some good high school teachers are working far harder now than was once necessary, for significantly poorer outcomes. Some workers are putting in longer hours than others whose productivity is greater greater than that of those employed for longer hours.

    It’s neither a simple or a single problem, and I’m relieved that I no longer have any responsibility for any of it.

  5. What proportion of the work force works 9 to 5 Monday to Friday these days?

    Don’t a lot of people work 4 or less days a week already?

    Here’s my proposal for reform: Abolish Mondays. A week will now be 6 days long and the day after Sunday will be Tuesday.

    Of course your boss will probably find a way to get the same amount of work out of you each year.

  6. I know some factories that are working 3 days a week with 12 hour shifts. This is done over two shifts, and you work an extra 8 hour shift a month; it works out to a 38 hour week over a month.

    I must admit I’m tempted to apply for a job there. I’ve been on permanant afternoon shift for nearly 18 months now and it really sucks, especially on Fridays.

    The problem with all these schemes are that generally you have to have these arrangements site-wide. This is fine for people like me that don’t mind changing jobs to suit my own arrangements but it is constricting for people who can’t do that.

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