The Green Party has supported the idea of a four day working week, adding to the small pool of support it has received recently.
Speaking at the party’s annual conference, Caroline Lucas, Co-Leader of the party and MP for Brighton Pavilion, told the audience they were “exploring policies like a three-day weekend, and fair pay”.
The party, which received over a million votes at the last general election, said they were a “political movement” that would redistribute “both money and power,” redefine “the relationship between work and life” and tip life “towards what genuinely makes us happier”.
Lucas and her Co-Leader, Jonathan Bartley, fleshed out the idea on The Andrew Marr Show yesterday. Bartley said: “We really wanted to flag this up because we think that we need bold new ideas for the country. “We’re facing the 21st century, a very uncertain world with big pressures from corporate globalisation. When I was a kid, we were told there would be all this wealth created, we’d have this great technological advance. You know what? What we’re seeing is just growing inequality. And we feel that people are being short-changed.”
Lucas, obviously, agreed: “I think there’s a lot of evidence that suggests that when people are exhausted their productivity goes down. “What we’re suggesting here is that we are now the sixth-largest economy in the world, people are working ever-more hours, getting ever-more stressed, getting ever-more ill health, mental health problems as well. What we want to do is take a step back and think: ‘What is the purpose of the economy? What kind of country do we want to be? Do we really want a future where all of us are just trying to work even harder so we’re bringing our work with us every time we go home in the evenings, at the weekends?”
The specific report by think tank the New Economics Foundation was cited by an aide as evidence for shortening the working week. It said: “While people can choose to work longer or shorter hours, we propose that 21 hours – or its equivalent spread across the calendar year – should become the standard that is generally expected by government, employers, trade unions, employees and everyone else. A much shorter working week would change the tempo of our lives, reshape habits and conventions, and profoundly alter the dominant cultures of western society.”
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