Unions Push for Four-Day Work Week as Automation Looms

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Unions Push for Four-Day Work Week as Automation Looms

Unison Wants Four-Day Work Week for All

Unison, the UK's largest union, is pushing for a four-day work week for all workers. They want the next government to make it law.

This comes after their members, including public service workers like NHS staff and police, voted in favor of the idea.

Unison argues that it's time to follow in the footsteps of past unions who fought for shorter work weeks. They believe a four-day week with fair pay is the next step.

This puts pressure on the Labour party, which receives significant financial backing from Unison, to consider the policy if they win the upcoming election.

However, critics argue that a four-day week may not work for essential services already facing strain. They worry about how doctors, for example, could see more patients in less time.

Unison points to the success of a four-day week trial at South Cambridgeshire District Council, where they represent employees. The government is watching this closely to see how it affects taxpayers.

The union's leader, Christina McAnea, believes a shorter work week is inevitable due to automation. However, it's unclear if Unison staff will also switch to a four-day week.

McAnea emphasizes the need for new workplace approaches and policies to improve lives and well-being. She sees the pandemic as proof that people can be productive working from home, and believes a four-day week is the next logical step.

Other unions, like the PCS, also support shorter work weeks without pay cuts.

A 2022 UK pilot program involving over 3,000 employees across 61 businesses showed promising results. Businesses saw increased revenue and reduced sick days. Only three companies stopped the program.

The CEO of Atom bank reported improvements across the board after adopting a four-day week. Following the UK pilot, campaigners urged MPs to make the four-day week law.

The idea is gaining traction internationally, with other countries exploring it. French President Macron even had to delay a labor summit on the topic due to participant holidays.

Polls show broad support for a four-day week among UK adults, with majorities of voters from all major parties in favor.

Companies are increasingly considering this model to attract talent. The Issa brothers, for example, are trialling a four-day week at Asda to address management concerns.

Unison's push for a four-day work week could significantly change the conversation about work-life balance and productivity in the UK. It could even lead to major changes in how people work if Labour takes power.